BEST OF THE BESTPublished 12:03am Saturday, August 2, 2014
Andalusia, Athens co-champions
Editor’s note: In honor of the Andalusia 1976 football team, which won the Class 3A state championship with Athens, the Star-News is reprinting the championship game story, written by associate editor Hank Wiesner. The 1976 football team will be inducted into the AHS Football Hall of Fame on Friday night. The story originally published in the Sun., Dec. 5, 1976 Star-News.
Calling time after time on what Andalusia head coach Don Sharpe was later to term “the best defensive effort I’ve ever seen,” Andy’s Dogs played the invading Athens Golden Eagles to a 7-7 draw Friday night to earn the Alabama 3A co-championship in high school football.
Golden Eagle fullback Adolph Cosby capped a drive that began on the Andy 35 when he went over his right side from eight years out with 2:31 left in the opening quarter. Scott Waldrop converted seconds later.
Andy was chained to the short end of the 7-0 score until deep in the third period. The Dogs recovered an Athens fumble on the Andy 41, and fullback Bobby Johnson capped the foot-by-foot infantry assault when he cracked in from two yards out with 4:15 left. Mark Chavers converted to tie the score.
Played to a tie-state, rules do not allow for sudden death tie breakers in state championship games — in a crackling cold night that saw temperatures in the 30’s, the game was statistically close.
Andalusia hammered out 197 yards and 12 first downs while Athens ended the night with 178 yards gained with nine first downs. A sole 11-yard toss by Athens was the only completed passing in the game.
Leading rushers for the Dogs included Bobby Johnson, who was held to 96 extremely tough yards, halfback John Anderson’s 62 yard production; quarterback David Anthony’s 22 yards, halfback Clarenferce Ball’s 13-yard effort and halfback Lee Williams’ seven yards.
Athens took the opening kickoff into play from their own 30, picked up a first down on the opening play when they recovered their own fumble 10 yards forward of the line of scrimmage, stalled into a fourth and two situation and punted out.
Andalusia began action from their own nine-yard stripe, collected nine yards in three tries—all by Johnson—and Keith Hines punted back to Athens.
The ball skidded out of bounds on the Dog 35, and the Golden Eagles began a series that went to a fourth and one call and ended with the Dogs recovering a Golden Eagle fumble on the play.
The Dogs stalled, and on fourth and three they punted out to their own 44-yard stripe.
The Golden Eagles went to work on the drive that was to produce their touchdown. The first and ten call turned into a second and 20 after Joe Ball dumped Charlie Harris for a loss, and a keeper by Eagle tosser Blane Bolton forced the issue to third and 14. But on the third down play Bolton dropped into the pocket to pass, was flushed out, and slipped up the middle to the Dog 35. On the fourth and seven call Cosby brought the Eagles out of the woods when he skirted the left side to the Andy 13-yard line.
The score came two plays later. Bolton ran a keeper to the ten, and on the second and five call Cosby galloped in for the score, followed by Waldrop’s conversion.
Andy took the kickoff from their own 30. Two plays later on the second and four call, Johnson fumbled a pitchout from Anthony and the Eagles recovered on the Dog 36.
Andy’s defense went to work to stall the first of the many Athens marches that should have brought scores against any other high school team in Alabama.
Tailback Steve Parker carried to the 33, then to the 26 for the first down. After that the Dogs toughened. Cosby went nowhere on first down, Lee Williams and Tim Nall rode Parker out of bounds for no gain, a rush brought an incomplete pass after Bolton rolled left, and the fourth down left side rollout brought another missed pass.
Andy took over on downs, and promptly ended its own march on the Dog 41 when a pitchout from Anthony sailed untouched across the backfield and was recovered by Ricky Burgreen.
Back on the field again, the Dog defense shut down the Golden Eagles in three straight plays. Cosby was dropped for no gain, a Bolton keeper play went nowhere, and Mike Ethridge broke through to sack Bolton on the following pass try. Bolton punted out of the fourth and 15 bind.
Andy went to work from their own 25, picked up a first down courtesy of Johnson, but then stalled into a fourth an nine call from their own 45 and punted away.
Athens took the ball into action from their own 14, worked out of a third and ten call when Bolton kept the ball and ambled to his own 31. On the following second and 16 situation, tailback Wayne Battles skittered along his own left sideline to the Athens 46. Quickly Athens moved to the Dog 43, but the Dog defense ended the threat quickly when Gary Odom picked off a Bolton toss and returned it to the Dog 26 to end the half.
Both defenses bogged down in the third period, but the first break for Andalusia came when they pounced on a Golden Eagle fumble on the Dog 41-yard line with 8:53 left in the third period.
The recovery set up the Dogs’ touchdown drive. On the first down call Anderson ripped up the middle to the Eagle 49, an Anthony keeper took the ball to the 38, and after the march thickened into a third and ten situation Anderson tore the middle again to the 26 and the first down.
The Golden Eagle defense stiffened, and faced with a fourth and seven situation from the 23, Anthony tossed an end-zone-aimed pass that went incomplete.
The drive was brought back from the dead with a pass interference call against Athens that gave Andalusia a first down on the Golden Eagle 14. From there, Anderson slashed up the middle to the four, Johnson hit the three-yard line and the first down, and on the first and goal call Johnson hauled it in. Seconds later Chavers kicked the extra point with 4:15 left in the third period.
Each side stalled on its next possession, and the quarter ended. On the following two possessions the offenses were still bogged down and again came the punt swap.
With 5:40 left in the game Andalusia got the ball back on a punt, and began its final drive. Coach Sharpe was later to admit disappointment that the drive produced neither the “big play” or a field goal, and watching it unfold was heartstopping, particularly as the final seconds evaporated from the scoreboard clock.
Moving into action from their own 18, Johnson hit the middle for two plays and a first down at the 28. On the next play Anthony scrambled his way to the 34, and then Johnson bulled to the 41 for another first down. On the next two plays Anderson got to the 43, and then the 49, Johnson carried again and suddenly it was first and ten from the Athens 48 with less than a minute left in the game.
It was Anderson to the 44, then Lee Williams to the 39, and Johnson carrying again to the 35 and the first down.
As the seconds melted from the fifties into the forties, Anthony picked up three yards on a keeper to the 32. On the second down call Anthony lofted a pass to Chavers in the end zone, broken up at the last possible second by Greg Haynes, and on the next play Anthony went back to Chavers on the same play and only a super last minute poke-away by Hanes again saved the score.
Finally with under ten seconds left, Chavers tried it from the other end with a field goal kick from about 42 yards out that lofted, hooked left and wide of the uprights. Tim remaining: two seconds.
Athens took over on the 20-yard line, bucked into the line—they weren’t about to endanger the tie—and the game was over.