Bulldogs dominate Sipsey Valley in first round victory, 43-6

Published 10:58 pm Friday, November 10, 2023

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The Andalusia Bulldogs were kicking on all cylinders for the first round of the playoffs, defeating the Sipsey Valley Bears 43-6.

The Bulldog defense gave up only one score, which came after a turnover on a fumbled punt return set the Bears up inside the 10-yard line. Other than that, it was tough sledding for the guests.

AHS Head Coach Trent Taylor said he was pleased with how his team played coming off a bye week to conclude the regular season.

“It was a little hard getting started, with penalties on both sides of the ball. But, I thought we did what we need to do. Offensively, it became apparent they were not going to put people in the box and allow us to run the football and that’s what we did. When we did throw it, Jake (Lathrop) did a good job,” Taylor said.

The victory sets up a second-round contest next week at Jackson High School (10-0), the undefeated champions in Region 1.

“We’ll go to work. We know they have a great football team and it will be a big challenge, but we’ll come up with what we need to do to give them a good battle,” Taylor said.

Playing a big role in the defense’s performance was junior Cadariyus Love who finished the game with a total of four interceptions.

The first of Love’s interceptions ended the Bears’ first possession, giving Andalusia the ball at the 47-yard line. J’Marion Burnette got his night going with three straight carries for a total of 25 yards. After a big 23-yard run by Kal Crittenden who would also be the recipient of a pass by Jack Lathrop on the following play for a gain of 13 yards to the 7-yard line. Burnette finished the drive with a 6-yard run to open the scoring. Parker Adams ran the ball in for a successful 2-point conversion to give the Bulldogs an 8-0 lead with 8:04 to go in the first period.

After the kickoff, Sipsey Valley’s first play resulted in the second interception of the game, this one hauled in by Neillix Ferrell, setting the Bulldogs up at the Bears’ 25 yard line. This time around it was Zerrick Jones carrying the ball. He took four consecutive handoffs, ultimately scoring on a 1-yard run. Cobb Stewart’s point-after lifted the Bulldogs to a 15-0 lead.

The Bears had their first big play of the game early on their following possession, connecting for a 37-yard pick up. But, a sack by Riley Tucker set them back and on a fourth-and-15 pass attempt Love came away with his second interception of the game.

Setting up at their own 10-yard line, Love continued his hot night, this time on offense, receiving a ball from Lathrop that went for a 65-yard gain. A few penalties and interceptions stalled the drive at the 20, forcing a field goal attempt that was no good, bouncing the wrong way off the right upright.

The Bears took over at the 20, but the possession ended with a punt due in large part to a sack by Tristan Pitts for a four-yard loss.

The Bulldogs gave Burnette the first two carries of the possession and then Jones took three in a row, including the last of those for 18 yards to the 15. Burnette completed the drive from there with a tough run into the end zone. Stewart’s point-after made the score 22-0 with 7:30 remaining in the first half.

The Bulldog defense wasn’t giving anything up to the Bears, once again forcing a punt. This time, the punt was mishandled, allowing the Bears to jump on it for excellent field position and setting up their first and only score of the game on a 15-yard reception. The point after was no good, but the Bears cut the lead to 22-6.

The kickoff went into the end zone for a touchback and on the first play from the 20-yard line Burnette burst through a hole and found a running lane all the way into the end zone as the Bulldogs took a 29-6 lead with 4:16 to go in the half.

Andalusia continued its domination of Sipsey Valley in the second half. The Bears successfully executed an onside kick to start the half, but weren’t able to capitalize on the gained possession.

Andalusia added a score on a 32-yard touchdown by Jones for the only score in the third period, lifting the Bulldogs to a 36-6 lead.

The final score came with 5:17 to go when Jordyn Skanes plowed into the end zone from four yards, making the final 43-6.

Burnette led the rushing attack with 197 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries. Jones finished with 107 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Skanes added 79 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

Lathrop went 12-of-23 passing for 185 yards.

Along with his four interceptions and a pass deflection on defense, Love led Andalusia receivers with eight catches for 131 yards. Crittenden had 35 yards on two catches.

Ferrell led defenders with six tackles, one for a loss, and had an interception. Kam Weaver had four tackles, one for a loss, an assist. Zade Newton finished with three tackles, two assists and two hurries. Xavier Marshall, Riley Tucker, and Tristan Pitts also had sacks in the game.