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Hartselle Enquirer

Priceville tops region

Bulldogs Quarterback Kaleb Barker scrambles for room to run against North Jackson Friday night. | Special to the Enquirer
Bulldogs Quarterback Kaleb Barker scrambles for room to run against North Jackson Friday night. | Special to the Enquirer

There was an epic contest on the Priceville football field Friday night.  Despite Friday’s forecast for rain and for Priceville to fall to the North Jackson Chiefs, the Bulldogs set out this night to make a statement.  The statement was one of determination, courage and teamwork for a start.  Prognosticators picked the Chiefs, the weathermen said rain, but both were wrong.  At 7 p.m., as scheduled, the skies dried up and by 7:05 the Bulldogs took a 6-0 lead, establishing themselves as contenders.

The Bulldogs chose to receive as if that was a license to score.  Kaleb Barker called for the snap and rattled off 35 yards to immediately set the tone.  Barker finished the first drive with a sharp pass to Parker Gwen on a slant route he took to the house from the 33-yard line.

Priceville would fail on the extra point attempt and also failed to stop North Jackson on their first drive, silencing the home crowd for a moment.  Priceville again began to drive down the field, but the Chiefs were able to sack Barker for a 9-yard loss, causing the Bulldogs to punt for the first time this season.  Barker’s punt pinned North Jackson down on their own 5.

The Chiefs would drive the ball down the field until a bad snap led to the first turnover of the night.  Tyler Green came away with the loose ball after Priceville’s defense began to gel.  Barker would again race down the field on a long run of 54 yards and followed that with a touchdown pass to Heath Mann  from 9 yards out, making the score 12-7 Bulldogs.

Priceville would again find a rhythm on defense that would stop North Jackson, but this time it was Kyle Haynes making an interception of the Chiefs pass.  The Bulldog offense would rattle off another drive, combining runs from Aaron Cartee and Kaleb Barker with another touchdown pass to Heath Mann in the end zone.  The Bulldogs would enjoy their largest lead of the night, but not for long.

North Jackson would drive the ball down the field using a big pass play to get inside the Priceville 5-yard line.  The Chiefs scored on the next play and converted the extra point that made the score 18-14 Priceville.

Priceville’s next drive would stall and they would punt for the second time this year.  This time Kyle Haynes punted and backed the Chiefs up to their own 38.  The Chiefs gathered momentum and scored two more times to the Bulldogs single score, making the halftime lead 28-24 North Jackson over Priceville.

North Jackson received the kick off to start the second half, but the Bulldog defense came up with another interception by Kyle Haynes.  The Bulldogs made a turnover of their own on the next play, with Barker throwing an interception of his own.  The Chiefs would capitalize on the turnover and make the score 34-24 after a missed extra point.

Aaron Cartee would reignite the Bulldogs with a 48-yard kickoff return, carrying the Bulldogs to the North Jackson 37. The Bulldogs would score to cut the lead when Barker rushed in from the 10-yard line.  The score was now back to a 3-point difference at 34-31 after the extra point.

The Chiefs would gather the kickoff and create their own momentum and drive the ball to the Priceville 9-yard line, where the Bulldogs would hold the Chiefs on a 4th down and 4.  The Bulldogs would struggle to get the first down against the energized Chief defense.  Coach Strunk then made the decision to go for it on a 4th down and 1 from their own 14. They converted the 1st down with a quarterback draw off the left side, taking back the momentum too.

The Bulldogs would mount a good drive that seemed to stall on consecutive holding penalties.  Kaleb Barker would then take the ball 73 yards to put the Bulldogs back on top for good 37-34.  Barker’s long run came on a 2nd down and 24 after the holding calls, adding to a 259 yard rushing total on 22 carries.

The Chiefs refused to lie down and fought back, but Kyle Haynes stopped their drive after another interception.  Haynes would take the 3rd inception back 40 yards to set up the Bulldogs on the Chiefs 25. The Bulldogs would score what would seal the victory on a pass from Barker to Parker Gwen.  It was Gwen’s second touchdown of the night. It was Barker’s 5th touchdown throw with 14 completions on 27 attempts. Priceville led 43-34 with 6:00 left in the forth.

North Jackson would respond and respond quickly, scoring in just 5 plays with a long pass by the Chiefs to score from 31 yards out.  The score would again bring the Chiefs to within 3 at 43-40.  Priceville would take the ball and carefully run the clock and the ball down to the Chief’s 10-yard line where the North Jackson defenders would strip it from Barker with 1:17 on the clock. The final snaps of the contest were a series of plays by the Chiefs, connecting on one pass and then another.  The last pass was knocked down near the Priceville 15 as time expired.

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