Bulldogs open season with rout of Bobcats in county faceoff, 42-8

Published 2:09 pm Friday, August 25, 2023

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Andalusia began defense of its 4A state championship and made several big plays on the way to a 42-8 win at cross-county rival Opp Thursday night.

AHS head coach Trent Taylor said he was proud of his team in facing off against an opponent that brought some unknowns into the first game of the season.

“What a really good job by Opp and Coach Brunson. Their kids are playing really hard. We were a little bit concerned what they would run offensively with no film, but I thought our kids did a really good job defensively. They stacked the box on us offensively and made us throw the ball rather than run it, which we will work on. All in all, it was a good night for us, and we don’t get long to celebrate as we now focus on Anniston next week,” Taylor said.

It was also the first game for the Bobcats under new head coach Matt Brunson.

“This is my first night in Opp, and Opp football is important to this community. It was great to see everybody come out and support our team. I’m proud of Coach Taylor and am glad they got all they could get. Hope they can score a bunch of points next week too. I look forward to the future with this group of mine,” Brunson said.

The Bobcats (0-1) began the game on offense and were pinned deep in their own territory. Starting at the 7-yard line, Zeb Green had two carries for 15 yards and a first down before the drive stalled. Following a punt, the Bulldogs (1-0) set up at their own 48 and moved across midfield on a 3-yard run from J’Marion Burnette. The defense held for a turnover on downs.

Opp’s second drive started in much better field position, and Colby Ballard nearly converted a 3rd and 24 with a 21-yard gain. After going in reverse, a fake punt killed the drive. Andalusia took over inside the red zone and scored on one play in 12 seconds. Jack Lathrop threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Stallworth. Cobb Stewart added the PAT for a 7-0 lead with 3:42 left in the opening quarter.

The Bobcats picked up nine yards on the next drive but came up short on fourth and 1. The Bulldogs used one play yet again – a 32-yard touchdown run by Burnette – and took a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Opp attempted a fake punt early in the second quarter and turned the ball over on downs. Lathrop converted two passes of 10 and 21 yards for first downs to the opposing 4-yard-line. Landen Marshall capped a 10-play, 53-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. Parker Adams caught a two-point conversion from Lathrop and gave Andalusia a 22-0 lead with 6:44 until halftime.

The two teams traded three-and-outs before the Bobcats made two first downs on their final drive of the half. Ballard had an 11-yard completion to Jakelleus Lane, while Jaymaryon Allen moved the chains with a 10-yard run. The Bulldogs made another stop and sent the game to halftime.

Andalusia scored on the first play of the second half. Kal Crittenden took a 62-yard touchdown pass from Lathrop to the house just 17 seconds in. The PAT was no good and left the score 28-0. Ballard converted a fourth down with a 10-yard run on the first Opp drive before the defense held on another fourth down. The Bulldogs used another quick score when Lathrop connected with Tyler Sigers on a 54-yard touchdown pass on second down. Stewart’s PAT made it 35-0 with 6:39 to go in the third. Beginning their next possession at the 3-yard-line, a penalty set the Bobcats back, but Allen picked up a first down with a 13-yard run. The defense stood tall and sent their offense back on the field.

Stallworth hauled in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Lathrop on the initial play of the next drive. Stewart booted the PAT for a commanding 42-0 lead with 3:20 to go in the third. Allen moved the chains on a fourth and 1, but Andalusia took back over on a fumble as the game moved to the fourth quarter. Opp forced a defensive stand and resumed possession with 11:14 remaining.

The Bobcats then averted the shutout with a 10-play, 71-yard drive. Green and Marcell Newsome earned first down carries as Ballard found Lane open through the air. Ballard finished the drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Lane. Ethan Morgan converted a two-point conversion and brought the score to 42-8 at the 5:43 mark. The two sides traded possessions, and save for a fumble recovered by the Bulldogs, neither side threatened the rest of the game.

Both teams will play at home next week, Friday, Sept. 1. Andalusia welcomes Anniston for senior night in a rematch from last season’s thrilling quarterfinal playoff game. Opp opens region play against New Brockton.