It all comes down to DEFENSE
Straughn held the Andalusia offense to 116 yards and a field goal Friday night. But a strong showing by the Bulldog defense — including scoring the game’s only touchdown and holding the Tigers scoreless – and a few breaks were enough to capture a 10-0 win and this year’s bragging rights.
Andalusia coach Brian Seymore said when the game came down to it, his players came through with big plays.
“It’s just having a great defense,” Seymore said.
Andalusia kept the ball for three minutes in the game’s first offensive series before being forced to call C.P. Rogers in to punt it away.
Straughn took possession, but didn’t do much better, fumbling the ball and recovering 47 yards from the line of scrimmage.
“It was a tale of two defenses that played well all night long, and to be quite honest with you, two offenses that couldn’t (get anything going),” SHS coach Trent Taylor said. “When you have that, it comes down to a break here or there, and tonight they got it and we didn’t. Hats off to them.”
The Bulldogs marched the ball all the way down to the 3-yard line, but a chop block was called on a Joseph Flowers 4-yard touchdown rush to bring the scoreless first quarter to a close.
At the start of the second, Andalusia sent out its field goal team, and for the first time this season, added three points on the board when Hopkins kicked it straight down the middle from 31 yards out.
Straughn’s next possession was one they would rather forget.
The Tigers were set up to punt from their own Straughn 32, but a bad snap over the kicker’s head put the ball in the Straughn end zone where Andalusia’s Emmanus Spears recovered for six points, giving his team a 10-0 halftime lead.
The game got even more defensive in the second half.
With 3:12 left in the third quarter, Andalusia took over on downs after Straughn put together a 10-play, 47-yard drive from its own 46.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Andalusia had to punt the ball away, but quickly got it back when senior running back and all-purpose player Derrick King caught his first of two end zone interceptions. King led in rushing with 16 carries for 60 yards, and Flowers rushed 32 yards on seven carries.
Straughn’s defense then stepped up with 7:04 left in the game when King fumbled the ball on a strip. The Tigers took over on the Andalusia 37-yard line.
On a fourth-and-19 play, Dewrell dropped back for a pass, but was sacked by junior linebacker Jacard Townsend to give Andalusia the ball back with 5:11 left in the quarter. Townsend finished the night with two sacks for a loss.
“It was fourth down, man, and I just had to do what I had to do,” Townsend said. “Coach told me to rush him, and I got back there and got him.”
With 2:37 left to play, Dewrell was sacked two more times, and threw his second interception of the night.
“He’s a big time player and I think our big players stepped up tonight,” Seymore said. “I think our defensive line played great. I’m just proud of the coaches this week. They did an excellent job. We knew it was going to be a struggle this week. I’m just elated right now. I knew how important it was.”
Dewrell was 7-of-14 for 111 yards in passing, and rushed 22 times for 81 yards. Chase Short had 13 carries for 64 yards.
Straughn senior wide receiver Austin Pickrel had four receptions for 56 yards.
Andalusia defensive coordinator Marshall Locke was hospitalized for a blood clot most of the week.
“Our kids really rallied for him,” Seymore said. “With him coming back, that just gave us an emotional lift. Our kids, when they had to step up and make the plays, made the plays.
“I’m very proud of our players,” he said. “They played four quarters and Straughn has a great team. They’ve got a quality football team. I’m proud for our coaches, our administrators, Dr. (Daniel) Shakespeare. It’s that big.”
Andalusia’s win was the third shutout this season. Andalusia beat Alabama Christian 14-0 and Bullock County, 47-0 in earlier region play.
The Bulldogs improved to 6-1 overall, and 5-0 in Class 4A, Region 2, and will hit the road to face Ashford next week to play for the region championship.
Straughn fell to 6-1 overall and 4-1 in Class 4A, Region 2. The Tigers travel to Headland next week.