Andy sparks to winPublished 1:08am Saturday, September 1, 2012
Andalusia needed a spark and the Bulldogs got a torch.
Trailing 14-3 at the start of the second half, AHS scored 13 unanswered points over rival Straughn in a 16-14 victory Friday night at Tigers Stadium.
The Tigers dominated the first half, where they scored two quick touchdowns in the first quarter.
From then on, AHS was in control on the defensive front, especially when it came to Bulldogs senior Sam Byrd.
On a number of occasions, Byrd cut through Straughn’s offensive line at the edge and either got a hand on a thrown ball or wrapped up Tigers quarterback Chase Short.
“I felt like if I played hard, couldn’t nobody stop me,” Byrd said. “That’s the attitude you’ve got to have.”
That was the attitude AHS took into the second half, as the Bulldogs cut the game to four when senior QB Michael McCalman launched a 52-yarder to Keonta Johnson for six. Andalusia’s Courey Hopkins kicked the extra point and it was good.
After Andalusia’s TD, its defense held SHS to a three and out and the Bulldogs started on their own 35.
On the 46-second drive, McCalman rushed the ball 23 yards and Javonte Johnson added another 35 yards with a SHS personal foul penalty to bring the ball to the Straughn 7.
Then, magic happened.
AHS senior running back Keonta Hunter ran into a pile of SHS defenders, bounced off the left edge, scampered back right and then cut left into the end zone to give the Bulldogs their final score of the night.
Despite Hopkins’ extra point being no good on the final TD, he did set the ball rolling with time expiring in the first half with a 35-yard field goal.
AHS head football coach Brian Seymore said he just told his players to “keep fighting, keep making plays.”
“I felt like we could move the football, but a lot of penalties really hurt us,” Seymore said. “We had some costly turn overs. They never quit. I told them (at half time) we’ve got a chance to get back in it and we need that one big play.
“We got the throw from Michael to Keonta right there,” he said.
It was a tail of two halves and that’s how SHS head football coach Trent Taylor summed the game up afterward.
“I thought our kids played well, of course we got some breaks there in the first half that helped us offensively,” Taylor said. “It was a great high school ball game.
“They just made one or two more plays than we did,” he said.
But, it was all about SHS in the first half.
The Tigers came out screaming, scoring a touchdown within the first minute of the contest on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Short with 11:03 in the first.
Andalusia’s first possession of the regular season resulted in a fumble. The only time the Bulldogs even made it to Straughn’s side of the field came with 2:59 left of the first quarter.
After a few miscues and fumbles later — three fumbles and one interception — Straughn got back on board with its second and final TD of the night.
Short connect with Devin Scott from 8 yards out and the Tigers made the 2-point conversion to go up 14-0.
In addition to Byrd having a great night at the end, Andalusia’s Montel Lee made great plays on defense for the Bulldogs, causing havoc on Straughn’s offensive line with penetration up the middle.
“Defense. What can I say, they were unbelievable,” Seymore said. “They kept us in the game. They stayed backed up most of the night and showed a lot of character. I’m super proud of the guys and coaches. This one’s for the community.”
Andalusia sealed the win when senior cornerback Hiren Patel snagged an interception and kept his feet inbounds at about the Straughn 15.
McCalman had four completions for 129 yards and one touchdown; K. Johnson had one reception for 52 yards and one TD; and Hunter had one reception for 34 yards.
On rushing, McCalman added 97 yards on 11 carries and J. Johnson had 58 yards on seven carries.
Straughn hosts W.S. Neal and Andalusia hosts Monroe County to start region play next week.
Injury report: Straughn’s Mason Farley (knee) and Brent Huckabaa (shoulder) sustained injuries during the game. Taylor said he won’t know the extent of the injuries until later today.