Bobcats win region championship

Published 12:02 am Saturday, October 18, 2014

Opp's Ty White (11) rushes for one of his fourth-down touchdowns Friday night as Hennis Washington (23) provides a good block. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Opp’s Ty White (11) rushes for one of his fourth-down touchdowns Friday night as Hennis Washington (23) provides a good block. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

DAPHNE — Instincts kicked in at the right time for Opp junior Ty White on Friday night.

White converted two, fourth-down plays for touchdowns in the second half and scored another to help lift the Bobcats to a 25-14 road victory over Bayside Academy.

“That was a team effort,” White said about the fourth-down conversions. “I knew the whole game that it was going to be hard — just to keep your head up.”

The junior running back and linebacker did that and more as he went on to rush for 185 yards on 18 carries to lead OHS.

Last night’s game was a big one for Opp as the Bobcats also won the Class 3A, Region 1 championship for the first time since 2011. With this win, the tenth-ranked Bobcats improve to 6-2 overall, and 5-0 in the region. It was also Opp’s first win over the Admirals in school history.

Throughout the night, the Bobcats faced adversity even while getting ahead 12-0 in the first half. OHS, who was without start sophomore quarterback Orlando Lacey (ACL), had to fight against a strong passing attack from BA and also the referees, who were making some questionable calls against the good guys.

Bobcats head football coach Brent Hill said he was proud of his boys for pulling out the win.

“We’ve never beaten Bayside,” Hill said. “To come here and get that victory and win the region, that’s pretty special.”

Hill said the players did a great job of keeping their emotions in check during the battle.

“Tonight, we faced some adversity and we survived it and that was the key,” he said.

White’s first fourth-down conversion for a TD came with 3:05 left in the third quarter.

With 15 yards to go until the first down, White took the ball and found a gap, where he hit pay dirt from 30 yards. With the failed 2-point conversion, the Bobcats led 18-14.

White said the first conversion was originally supposed to be a pass play.

“Every time we line up a back one way, they blitz at us,” he said. “For me to have rolled the other way, I heard a lineman say ‘hey, somebody’s coming behind you.’

“My instincts kicked in and I went back the other way,” he said.

Opp really needed a big defensive stop after the Admirals drove it 66 yards to the Bobcat 3-yard line.

Bayside Academy’s Andrew Citrin found a gap at the right side, but coughed up the ball, which fell in the hands of Greg House at the start of the fourth quarter.

After the fumble recovery, OHS drove the field on a 8-play, 98-yard drive that was eclipsed by White’s second 30-yard, fourth-down TD rush with 7:51 to go. With the successful point after attempt by Dalton Tidwell, OHS took its well-earned 11-point lead at 25-14.

Hill said the boys did a great job of blocking on the perimeter, which allowed White to scoot in for those touchdowns.

“That kid, if you don’t believe he wants to win, I tell you, come and watch Opp football,” Hill said about White. “He’s just a special young man.”

Defensively, White helped make some stops, celebrating each as if it was the game-winner.

When asked what his mindset was going into the game, White said he had plenty of “motivation.”

“We started playing them two years ago and they put up 76 points on us,” he said. “There was some motivation behind that.”

In the first half, Bayside Academy cut Opp’s lead to five when Gregory Wallace rushed in from 3 yards with 7:35 left in the second quarter.

On Opp’s next possession, Reggie Thompson threw it to Raheem Bonam, but the ball bounced off of the receiver’s helmet and into the hands of Bayside Academy’s George Barry, who serves as the Admirals’ quarterback on offense.

The Admirals took advantage on their next possession as Barry threw a Tim Tebow-like pass to tight end Austin Chastang from 14 yards for the go-ahead scored with 5:20 left in the first half. With the score, BA led 14-12.

In fact, that was the last time the Admirals would find the end zone as the Bobcats’ defense stepped up big in the second half behind White’s touchdowns.

Earlier, the game could’ve had a different outcome if White’s pass to House in the first quarter wasn’t called back because of a pass interference call on the Bobcats.

No matter though, White took the ball in 27 yards with 5:14 to go in the first to give OHS an early 6-0 lead.

On the ensuing Bayside possession, Cale Pierce caught an interception and ran it back, but a holding call negated the score.