Blue Devils down Bulldogs

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 6, 2010

Andalusia's Deion Akins gains yardage Friday night. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Escambia County scored 19 unanswered points in the first three quarters to beat Andalusia 19-6 in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs Friday night at Bulldog Stadium.

“This group has done a lot to turn this program around,” AHS coach Brian Seymore said. “They proved that by winning the region championship this year. I’m really proud of these guys, and they’ve been through the tough times.

“We went 2-8 (in 2008), and finished 6-5 (in 2009), and got beat in the playoffs last year,” he said. “We had an opportunity tonight. I’ve got to credit (ECHS) coach (Mark) Heaton and their staff. Their defensive line is the best we’ve seen.”

Escambia County’s Christopher Johnson scored two touchdowns in the first half to help his team take a 12-0 lead at half time. He scored from the 4- and 1-yard lines.

In the Blue Devils’ first offensive series, it only took four minutes, and 10 seconds to take an early 6-0 lead.

Escambia County running back Christopher Smith helped lead the Blue Devils down to the Andalusia 4-yard line, where Johnson scored his first touchdown. The extra point by Tyler Nero was no good.

Andalusia took over from their own 22, and couldn’t get anything going on its ground game. Senior running back Derrick King rushed two times, and tried for a reverse pass to C.P. Rogers, but Escambia County’s defense held the Bulldogs to a punt.

The Bulldogs forced Escambia County to punt on the Blue Devils’ next offensive possession, and started on their own 37-yard line.

On a first-and-10 play, Andalusia had the momentum it needed to get a score, but a bad snap caused a loss of 16 yards.

Andalusia senior Deion Akins threw to King for no gain; King rushed 14 yards; and the Bulldogs called a time out to think about the next play.

With 41.4 seconds left remaining in the first quarter, Akins threw a pick to Escambia County’s Domineque Hubert.

Andalusia’s defense didn’t back down on the Blue Devils’ next offensive possession. In fact, it was the Bulldogs’ best of the night.

After Blue Devils running back Nieko Williams gained eight yards on two plays, senior quarterback Ricco Stallworth couldn’t go anywhere on third down to give Andalusia its first three-and-out on defense.

The Bulldogs gave the ball back on downs on their next offensive series, and Escambia County took advantage.

That was when Johnson scored his second touchdown of the night from the 1-yard line with 6:34 remaining in the first half. The Blue Devils tried for a two-point conversion, but it was no good.

Two offensive possessions later, Andalusia fumbled the ball with 2:27 left in the first half to give the Blue Devils an opportunity to score from the Bulldogs’ 16-yard line.

Johnson and Stallworth got shot down on the ground and in the air, and on a pass play Stallworth threw an interception to Andalusia’s Joseph Flowers. Stallworth was 3-of-7 for the night.

To seal the fate of Andalusia’s first half performance, Escambia County’s Tocorian Brown picked off Akins with 5.4 seconds until the break.

In the second half, penalties plagued the Bulldogs, and the Blue Devils took advantage, soaking up momentum.

Escambia County scored its last touchdown of the night to seal the win with no time remaining in the third quarter on a 13-yard interception from Brown.

“We had them a little outmanned,” Heaton said. “They’ve got a great football team, and they do a great job. They had a lot of turnovers and costly penalties that gave us the momentum and the edge. They played hard until the last second.”

Andalusia put its only, and final score in the game with 5:51 left in the fourth quarter on a four-yard deflected pass to Townsend on a fourth-and-goal play. The PAT was blocked.

Escambia County would take control of the clock, and give Andalusia the ball back with 1:56 left in the game.

However, the Bulldogs didn’t quit, advancing the ball on carries by Townsend. Townsend was injured on one play, but walked off the field.

“Our kids battled, and you can’t turn the ball over that many times,” Seymore said. “Our offense played hard. They played hard to the end. We just couldn’t overcome those mistakes. That’s something we’ve got to live with.”

Lining up in victory formation, Escambia County took a knee and ended Andalusia’s 2010 season.

The Bulldogs finished with a 9-2 record, and the Blue Devils (8-3) will travel to Jackson in the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

The leading rusher for Andalusia was Townsend with 70 yards on five carries. Akins was 10-of-20 for 69 yards, and King had 10 carries for 27 yards.