Bobcats win 1st area title in 10 years (THROWBACK THURSDAY)

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 26, 2015

Derek Staley carries the ball for Andalusia.

Derek Staley carries the ball for Andalusia.

Opp survived a third-quarter really by the Andalusia Bulldogs to claim a 36-22 win, giving the Bobcats their first 5A, Area 4 championship since 1981.

Andalusia held Opp again and forced the punt, taking over on the Bobcat 33. Tillman picked up the initial first down on a bootleg, and Derek Staley gave them a first and goal on the five.

But the Bobcat defense stiffened to force a field goal attempt. Tillman drilled home a 21-yard field goal from the left hash for the early 3-0 lead.

Andalusia would have another opportunity after recovering an Opp fumble on the Bobcat 45, but the Bobcats came up with an interception on their own 1-yard line and proceeded to head to the goal.

Quarterback Aaron Hightower broke free on the option and raced to the Bulldog 27. Hightower then plowed over from 23 yards out for the touchdown. The extra point was no good, but Opp lead 6-3 in the second quarter.

After holding the Bulldogs, the Opp offense went back to work for their own 25. Hightower rambled to the Andalusia 45, while Shay Horstead got another first down to the Bulldog 30.

Then on third-and-five, fullback Reggie Ware bulled his way in from 11 yards out with 30 seconds left in the first half.

In the third quarter, the Bulldogs showed signs of life. Derek Staley broke into the open field and gave Andalusia a first down near midfield. Another Staley gain gave the Bulldogs a first down on the Bobcat 28. Anthony Johnson plowed to the nine and Staley capped off the drive with a 1-yard plunge. Cutting the Bobcats’ lead to 14-10.

Hightower then called his own number to the Andalusia 5. After an illegal procedure call, Hightower connected with Ben Ramer for the touchdown pass with 3:50 remaining in the third. The two-point conversion was good for a 22-10 Bobcat lead.

However, the Bulldog offense took right up where they left off, gaining yards through the Bobcat defense.

Tillman called his own number for the sneak to the Bobcat 23. Johnson then found an opening and scored from 16 yards out. The extra point failed, but Andalusia was back in the game, trailing 22-16.

The powerful Bobcat offense could not be stopped, Hightower led the team down the field for another score. Hightower plunged into the end zone from 4 yards out. Opp held a 30-16 lead.

Andalusia would turn the ball back over to Opp on a fumble and Hightower connected with Ramer again for a 15-yard scoring strike with three minutes reaming in the game. The extra-point was no good for a 36-16 lead.

Andalusia’s Johnson picked up a Bobcat fumble and scored from 28 yards out with just more than a minute left in the game. The two-point conversion failed, making it a 36-22 final.