Opp stops Andy’s playoff hopes

Published 2:34 am Saturday, November 7, 2009

Opp took advantage of Andalusia’s penalties and turnovers to eke out a 21-16 victory over the Bulldogs on Friday night in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs at Channel-Lee Stadium in Opp.

A week earlier, Andalusia claimed the end-of-the-regular-season win by defeating the Bobcats 24-12.

“I know our kids played hard this whole game,” Andalusia coach Brian Seymore said. “I want to congratulate Coach Whigham, his staff and his players. They did an outstanding job.”

At halftime Friday, Opp led 7-0, gaining momentum early in the first quarter when Opp’s Devin Davis intercepted a pass from Andalusia’s Deion Akins, and then ran the ball from 46 yards out for the touchdown.

When asked how his team pulled out the win, Opp coach Jack Whigham said it was due to his players’ efforts.

“The kids just kept playing hard,” Whigham said. “Our defense just played outstanding. They kept us in the game in the first half, and offensively, we were able to put some things together in the second half.

“Our kids showed a lot of heart (Friday night),” he said. “We told the kids before the game that it was going to be a ‘heart’ game.”

Opp senior running back Josh Scarbrough said after the game that he has never seen his team play like they did Friday night.

“I ain’t never felt nothing like this,” Scarbrough said. “We played with so much heart. We have never played with that much heart.”

Scarbrough said the main “difference” between this week and last week was the execution on both sides of the ball.

“We focused and finished, focused and finished,” he said.

Akins threw two interceptions on the night. His second came in the last play of the fourth quarter when the ball went into the hands of Tyler Harrison.

Andalusia held Opp to three-and-out on the Bobcats’ first possession of the game, before recovering a fumble at their own 18-yard line.

It was a defensive first half of the game, with each team nearly equaling offensive yardage.

Andalusia had a total of 83 yards and Opp had 84.

At the beginning of the second quarter, Opp’s Gavin Free handed the ball off to Richard Davis, who then threw the ball for an interception to Andalusia’s Kenneth Chambers.

Fouls plagued Andalusia’s offense on its next possession.

Opp (7-4) managed to get in field goal range from 8 yards out, but Hunter Jones missed his attempt.

Jones’ second miss came at the end of the first half from 28 yards out to keep the score at 7-0.

Andalusia (6-5) regrouped and came out in the third quarter to gain its first lead over Opp on a 10-play, 74-yard drive by T.K. Bullard.

“Andalusia has an outstanding team,” Whigham said. “They’re very well-coached, they have tremendous players and they played their hearts out. I congratulate them on a great season and we were fortunate enough to win the game.”

At the 6-yard line, Bullard rushed in for his team’s first touchdown. He finished the drive on a 3-yard two-point conversion.

Opp’s Josh Scarbrough answered Andalusia’s touchdown on his team’s next possession and ran the ball in 65 yards to give his team a seven-point edge with a successful two-point attempt.

Opp scored its final touchdown of the night near the mid-point of the fourth quarter on a 36-yard pass from Gavin Free to Josh Thompson. The extra point was no good to put the score at 21-8.

Andalusia had some more life left one minute later in the game when Akins connected with Derrick King for a 79-yard touchdown pass. Bullard drove in the two-point conversion to score the final points for his team’s season.

“I’m proud of our kids,” Seymore said. “I’m proud of what they did this year. I’m proud of the senior group. They really stuck together and I think they really got us back pointed in the right direction. I love each and every one of them and I appreciate all of the effort they gave this year.

“We’re going to move forward and it’s very, very disappointing and very, very bittersweet. Our hats are off to coach Whigham and his staff. They did a tremendous job. I’ll miss these seniors, but we’ve got to get back in the weight room and get ready for next year.”

Opp’s Josh Scarbrough led in rushing with 15 carries for 89 yards and had one touchdown; and Richard Davis rushed for 63 yards on 13 carries.

In passing, Opp’s Gavin Free was 6-for-7 for 103 yards and one touchdown.

Andalusia’s T.K. Bullard had 18 carries for 96 yards and one touchdown; Marcus Jones rushed for 47 yards on 10 carries; and Deion Akins had one touchdown.

Opp will host Jackson next Friday night in the second round of the state playoffs.

Kickoff is at 7 p.m.