Undefeated Bulldogs fall at home

Published 12:08 am Saturday, November 5, 2011

Andalusia’s Jacard Townsend (5) scored his team’s only points Friday night in the loss. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Turnovers plagued No. 6 Andalusia on Friday night, and Elmore County rolled to a 21-15 victory over the Bulldogs in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs at AHS.

The Bulldogs finished their season 10-1, and had five turnovers — four fumbles and one interception — in the loss to the Panthers.

AHS head football coach Brian Seymore said the take-aways were the difference.

“They were. You can’t turn the ball over, and expect to win,” Seymore said. “I hate to have it go out like this. As a head coach, I take full responsibility. I’ve got to do a better job preparing them.”

In a whirl-wind season, the Bulldogs were destined to go far in the playoffs, but the Panthers cut their ride short with impressive line play and passing.

Elmore County scored all of their touchdowns after Andalusia turnovers to advance to the second round of the playoffs.

Panthers senior quarterback Truman Franklin found his favorite target, sophomore wide receiver Jaleen Mitchell for two scores from seven and 16 yards, and rushed five yards for the third touchdown.

Andalusia’s defense, which has carried the Bulldogs throughout the season, made some big stops and got a couple take-aways.

Bulldogs’ sophomore Daniel Henderson intercepted a pass from Franklin that led to a 3-yard touchdown rush by Jacard Townsend, who then completed the 2-point conversion and AHS led 8-7 with 11:24 remaining in the second quarter.

Franklin’s first TD pass came after an Andalusia fumble on the Panthers’ 32-yard line.

Then, Franklin rushed for 23 yards, and completed three passes that set up Mitchell’s first touchdown reception from seven yards out with 5:09 left in the first quarter. The Panthers led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.

With a few seconds remaining in the first half, Andalusia tried a rush from eight yards out, but was stopped short at the goal line.

The Bulldogs’ defense stopped the rushing attack of Shukory Whetstone on the Panthers’ next offensive possession and Andalusia took over on downs at its own 7-yard line.

Townsend led the charge, going 86 yards, and completed the drive, scoring from six yards with 7:07 left in the third quarter. With the PAT, the Bulldogs led 15-7.

After a successful defensive series, Andalusia again fumbled to set up the Elmore County scoring drive that tied the game.

Franklin completed passes to Tyler Black for 15 yards, and then connected with Mitchell from 16 yards after the ball bounced off a couple of Andalusia players with 2:12 left in the third quarter. Franklin took the ball in from three yards to tie the game up at 15-15.

At the mid-point of the fourth quarter, Andalusia drove down the field 20 yards, but another fumble netted another Elmore County offensive possession.

From there, the Panthers mounted a 42-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard TD rush by Franklin with 1:36 left in the contest.

However, Andalusia set itself up for another scoring drive, and at its own 47-yard line, the Bulldogs fumbled the ball again. Elmore County’s Jonathan Waite smothered the ball and the Panthers kneed to victory after Whetstone rushed four yards on a third-and-one play to get a first down.

Seymore said all-in-all that he’s going to miss the seniors on the team, those who have been with him in the last four seasons as head coach of the Bulldogs.

“It was a great season, but like I told you before, I think you’re evaluated on what you do in the playoffs,” Seymore said. “We came up short. It’s tough to accept. It’s tough to accept.

“I’m going to miss this bunch of seniors because they laid the ground work to get this program back to where it is,” he said.