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Big A-Town win [with gallery]

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Failed conversion at game’s end gives rival game to Bulldogs

The No. 4 Andalusia Bulldogs (9-1, 7-0) got all they could handle from rival Straughn Tigers (4-5, 4-3) before coming away with a 14-13 victory on Friday night in Andalusia.

It was a game that came down to the wire, and a missed two-point conversion attempt from the Tigers with just over a minute left in the game turned out to be the difference in the game.

“I just really felt that with their depth, we didn’t have a chance in overtime,” Tigers’ head coach Chris Wilson said. “I just wasn’t sure how much we had left in the tank, so I just wanted to try to go for two and the win.”

With seven minutes left in the game and down by seven points, the Tiger created a turnover and took over on the Andalusia 40-yard line.

Straughn ate up most of the remaining time before Barrett Bush capped of the 10-play 40-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown that left the Tigers trailing by one.

Straughn lined up for a two-point conversion and attempted to run a reverse, but the ball was mishandled on the exchange and the Bulldogs pounced on the ball thwarting the Tigers’ chances.

A failed onside kick attempt gave Andalusia great field position, and a big 30-yard rush from Ethan Wilson allowed the Bulldogs to just take a knee to run out the clock.

In a game with two strong offenses, it was the two defenses that really showed up and stole the show.

“I thought our defense played lights out tonight,” Andalusia head coach Trent Taylor said. “They gave up two scores, but our offense just wasn’t able to do enough to get them off the field. Credit that to Straughn. They had a great scheme and those kids executed it perfectly.”

Andalusia got the ball to start the game, but the swarming Tiger defense forced a punt after holding the Bulldogs to a three-and-out.

When the Tigers took over for their first possession, it was the Bulldogs turn to flex their defensive muscle. After giving up 7 yards to Jarvaris Samuel on the first play, the Bulldog defense held strong the next two plays and forced the Tigers to punt.

The Tigers answered back and forced another three-and-out from the Bulldogs’ offense.

On the third play of the Tigers’ next possession, Bush’s pass was tipped at the line and fell right into the waiting hands of Andalusia’s Antonio Gurley for a Bulldog interception.

The Bulldogs picked up a the first first down of the game when Jamal Hourel picked up 12 yards on the first play of the drive. The Bulldogs got another first down a few plays later when Taylor Griffin connected with Jaden Brown for a 7-yard gain, but the drive stalled out forcing the Bulldogs to punt.

The Tigers defense got things going and drove nearly 80 yards on 8 plays, and Samuel found the end zone from 1-yard out to put Straughn on the board first. The extra-point from C.J. Philpot was good and the Tigers led 7-0 with 11:55 seconds left in the second quarter. The Tigers’ touchdown was set up when Bush connected with Jacob Hawkins who took the ball down to the Bulldogs’ 1-yard line.

The Bulldogs answered right back when Hourel broke through the Tigers’ front and sprinted his way 48 yards for the score. Chase Hopkins added the extra-point to tie the game 7-7 with 8:57 left in the second quarter.

Andalusia’s hard-hitting defense forced a fumble from the Tigers’ running back, and Riley Graham landed on the ball for the Bulldogs.

Andalusia tried a little trickery when Hourel took a pitch from the Bulldogs’ quarterback and then heaved the ball downfield. Straughn’s Alan George went up and came down the ball for an interception.

Both teams traded punts to close out the first half.

After stopping the Tigers short on fourth down play, the Bulldogs took over at their own 19-yard line with 1:26 left in the third quarter.

On the ninth play of the drive, Wilson connected with B.J. Anderson for a 43-yard pickup that put the ball on the Tigers’ 6-yard line. Hourel capped off the drive one play later with a 6-yard touchdown run. Hopkins’s kick split the uprights to give Andalusia a 14-7 lead.

“We were just fortunate to catch them with a deep pass,” Taylor said. “That was really the difference in the game. Now we are off next Friday, so we can start getting ready for the playoffs.”

Andalusia will host West Blocton for the first round of the AHSAA Class 4A state playoffs on Nov. 6.

Straughn will also be off next week, and will travel to Bibb County for the first round of the playoffs on Nov. 6.

“I was proud of the way we played tonight,” Wilson said. “Our defense played a heck of a game, and we did a great job controlling the line of scrimmage all night.”