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Bulldogs fall to Blue Eagles, 20-17

Big plays were the highlight of the preseason high school football game between the W.S. Neal Blue Eagles and Andalusia Bulldogs on Friday.

Each team had three big plays which resulted in scores with the Blue Eagles getting three touchdowns for a 20-17 win.

First-year Andalusia Head Coach Tom Causey said he was pleased with some aspects of his Bulldogs' performance.

"I was pleased with parts of our play, but we still have a long way to go," Causey said.

The Andalusia coach was also quick to point out that a few breakdowns proved costly for the Bulldogs.

"We gave up three big plays tonight," Causey said. "They scored on three big plays. We held them other than that."

First-year W.S. Neal Head Coach Shane Smothers said his Blue Eagles surprised him.

"Everybody played hard," Smothers said. "Our goal tonight was to play hard and learn what we are doing.

"I challenged them and told them they weren't ready to play and they surprised me," he added.

Overall, Smothers said the Blue Eagles "did decent."

The first big play of the game came early in the contest.

W.S. Neal senior running back Marcus Folmar scored on a 76-yard run on a second-and-20 play. The PAT attempt by Spencer Williamson was off target, but the Blue Eagles held an early 6-0 lead with 10:59 left to play in the opening quarter.

The Bulldogs got the next big play.

A swarming defense turned a third-and-18 situation for the Blue Eagles into two points for Andalusia with a safety.

Junior defensive lineman Chris Giles and a host of Bulldog defenders tackled a W.S. Neal ballcarrier in the end zone for a safety and two points. The safety trimmed the Blue Eagles' lead to 6-2 with 2:26 left in the opening period.

W.S. Neal answered with another big play on offense after the defense stopped the Bulldogs and forced a punt.

Jake Bailey took a short pass from Marquis Barksdale and raced 73 yards for a touchdown to stretch the Blue Eagles' lead to 12-2. Williamson hit the PAT for a 13-2 lead with 58 seconds left in the first quarter.

Ben Crane set up the Blue Eagles for another scoring chance with a pass interception. The Blue Eagles' offense appeared to score on the first play following the turnover, but a flag negated the score.

The Blue Eagles scored on the very next play with Alphonso Gross scoring on an 89-yard run. Williamson once again converted the PAT attempt for a 20-2 W.S. Neal lead with 7:02 left in the first half.

Andalusia refused to give up and Wesley "Big Play" Liles came up big.

The senior running back scored on a 49-yard run with 5:10 left in the half. Neal Patterson added a two-point conversion via a run into the end zone and the Bulldogs were down 20-10.

Liles earned his new nickname with another big play on the Bulldogs' next possession.

After the Andalusia defense forced a Blue Eagle punt, the offense came back out on the field and after a short pass to Patterson turned to Liles. Liles took a hand-off, went up the middle, bounced to the outside and rambled 40 yards for his second touchdown of the game. The PAT was good and Andalusia trailed by just three points with 1:46 left in the half.

Neither team scored again, despite some close calls.

The Blue Eagles had a touchdown called back in the third quarter because of an illegal block penalty.

Andalusia used a fumble recovery by Justin Shiver late in the game to mount a drive that came up just short.

The second team offense marched down the field under the direction of Matt Mellown, but the game ended on an exciting incomplete pass as the horn sounded.

Mellown threw a long pass down the middle of the field that was tipped by junior Jared McNeil with Chase Glisson making a diving attempt at a catch at the five-yard line. The pass was ruled incomplete and the game ended.

W.S. Neal begins the season on Friday, Aug. 29 at Hillcrest High School in Evergreen.

Andalusia is slated to play Charles Henderson High School of Troy next Friday in the regular-season opener.