Bulldogs got heart, beat Jags

Published 12:49 am Saturday, September 15, 2012

Andalusia's Michael McCalman (17) rushed for two touchdowns and passed for two touchdowns last night. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Bulldogs overcome 15-point deficit

EVERGREEN — Those who questioned whether Andalusia had any heart at all Friday night were slap wrong.

Trailing 18-3 at half time, the Bulldogs scored four touchdowns in the third quarter and added a score late in the fourth to drench Hillcrest-Evergeen 36-18 in region play at Memorial Stadium.

Andalusia junior quarterback Michael McCalman played like a senior last night, helping to account for four of the Bulldogs’ five TDs. He had two rushing and two passing scores.

The QB gave all the credit to the fact that his team played better in the second half. The Bulldogs outscored the Jaguars 33-0 in the final 24 minutes.

“There were big holes, good blocking,” McCalman said. “The receivers were running the right routes. First half, it was a little shaky, but the second half, we just came out there and we really showed heart and character. We just executed.”

With 10:59 left in the third quarter, McCalman found a hole and took it 44 yards for the Bulldogs’ first TD of the night. He added his second scoring rush more than nine minutes later from three yards out to build Andalusia’s lead to 29-18.

McCalman said everything looked easier on the field.

“Everybody did a whole lot better job,” he said. “When everybody does a better job, it makes things a bit easier.”

Andalusia’s two other TDs in the third came on a 33-yard pass from McCalman to Keonta Johnson and an 8-yard rush from Javonte Johnson.

After the game, AHS head football coach Brian Seymore couldn’t help but be in disbelief. He said there were no adjustments made on either offense or defense in the second half.

“It basically came down to us coming out and showing a lot of character and heart,” Seymore said. “I don’t know how to explain it.”

Seymore added that he really challenged his players to “compete for four quarters.”

“I felt like they were going to let it all hang out,” he said. “And, they did it. I really felt like our defense stepped it up in the second half. They knocked the ball loose a couple times and made some big stops on defense.”

The Bulldogs’ defense forced a fumble on Hillcrest-Evergreen’s first possession in the second half as junior Montell Lee made the key tackle so senior Hiren Patel could cover the ball.

Knocking the ball loose was his first play on defense for Lee. He sat out the entire first half.

Lee said there was one thing on his mind after half time concluded — domination.

“I just didn’t want to let my teammates down,” Lee said. “They were counting on me in the first half. I wasn’t there for them. I just had to play in the second half for them.

“I had to help them win,” he said.

Andalusia got the ball back with 3:17 to go in the third quarter when junior Jud Rogers leaped a tall building to grab an interception from Hillcrest-Evergreen’s Hunter Johns.

Getting out of the gate and off to a good start is still something Seymore said he wants to see from his team. The Bulldogs took a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter, but allowed the Jaguars to score 18 unanswered points on a dominating run game.

“It seems like we feel folks out a bit and then play very well,” he said. “We’re playing a solid football team in Thomasville (next week). We’re playing in front of the home crowd, so I’m looking forward to it.”

McCalman, who finished 9-of-14 with 160 yards and two TDs passing, engraved the “W” in the right column on a 17-yard pass to senior receiver Jalen Cross, who was waiting in the back corner of the end zone.

Seymore said when teams load the box, the Bulldogs will take that and run with it.

“I feel like Mike did a good job and we made some big plays in the passing game,” he said. “I’m just proud of our kids and coaches.”

When asked if he put any pressure at all on McCalman’s shoulders, Seymore said he handled it well by his performance.

“Being the orchestrator of this offense, he’s got to lead,” Seymore said. “He made some big throws and good decisions and big runs. But, it was just a total team effort.”

On the ground, McCalman rushed 130 yards on 20 carries and scored two TDs.

In addition to Rogers’ interception and Patel’s rumble recovery, Daniel Henderson also got a fumble recovery of his own.

The Jaguars took a 6-3 lead when Johns hit Keith Spidell for a 22-yard TD pass with 2:39 left in the first quarter.

HHS then took a 10-3 lead on a safety with 7:53 left in the second quarter and scored its last TD of the night on a pass from Johns to Spidell from 7 yards.

The Bulldogs got on board with 7:03 left in the first on a 34-yard field goal from senior kicker Courey Hopkins.

Andalusia will host Thomasville next week in region action.