No. 4 Eufaula escapes from Brundidge, 34-33

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 3, 2000

Sports Editor

BRUNDIDGE – Not many people gave Pike County High School a chance against No. 4 ranked Eufaula.

And although the Bulldogs did lose to the Tigers, head coach Wayne Grant’s team proved once again they could play with the best.

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Class 5A Eufaula escaped from Brundidge with a narrow 34-33 victory on Friday night. The Bulldogs had the Tigers on the ropes all night, taking a 21-6 lead into the half and then trading touchdowns in the third quarter with the heavily favored Tigers.

Eufaula quarterback Clayton Long tied the score for the first time with a on 1-yard plunge early in the fourth quarter.

Then, after taking the kickoff, Bulldog quarterback Marquez Foster threw deep looking for receiver Jeremy Reed. Instead the pass was picked off by Tiger safety Bernie Smith, who returned it for a

touchdown with 10:05 left in the game. The score gave Eufaula a 34-27 lead.

But to their credit, Pike County didn’t fold.

Back came Foster and tailback Tyrone Boyd. The Bulldogs picked up two quick first downs and were in Tiger territory. Foster found Boyd on a screen pass in the flat and the senior speedster found is way to the Eufaula 1-yard line. A fumble into the endzone was recovered by fullback Sam Diggs, but the two point conversion attempt was no good and Pike County was still down 34-33 with 6:40 left.

Eufaula received the kickoff with a chance to pick up a few first downs and call it night. Junior running back Charles Green went around the right side for 24-yards, but Long fumbled on the next play and the Bulldogs found themselves in good shape on the Eufaula 41-yard line.

A delay of game penalty pushed the ball back five yards, but Boyd gained seven and then eight yards to give Pike County a first down. But facing a fourth and five, Grant opted to have Boyd try a long field goal with 3:29 remaining. The senior had the distance on the kick, but it sailed wide left.

Green knocked out a quick first down on three straight running plays and Long took a knee as time ran out, preserving the Tigers’ victory.

"We had our chances to win again," said Grant after the game. "We’ve got to learn how to play a little tougher in certain situations. Our numbers are what’s hurting us right now. We’ve got so many people beat up and banged up trying to finish a ball game…it’s hard to do."

The play of the Bulldogs’ special teams had a lot to do with how Pike County managed to keep a touchdown advantage over Eufaula for most of the game. Twice the Tigers were burnt on kickoff returns by the Bulldogs.

Down 13-0 in the closing minutes of the second quarter, Long hit Dedric Gordon for a six-yard touchdown, pulling the Tigers close at 13-6.

But with 51 seconds left in the half Bulldog senior tailback Durane Flowers found a seam on the kickoff and took it 79 yards to the 1- yard line. From there Foster took it in on a quarterback sneak and Boyd was able to stretch out and get the two point conversion, giving Pike County a two touchdown lead at the half.

Green scored a seven yard touchdown in the third quarter and Long added the two point conversion on the keeper, making it 21-14 in favor of the Bulldogs.

Foster ran over one Tiger on the return and then dragged another to the Eufaula 10-yard line for a total of 73 yards. On third and 18, the senior quarterback lofted a 22-yard pass into the endzone for Boyd who made the catch between two Tiger defenders. The extra point was blocked and the Bulldogs led 27-14.

"It’s an added bonus of having the speed we have in the backfield," said Grant. "Tyrone has a tremendous amount of speed as does Durane. Marquez is fairly quick too. He ran them a long way on that kick return before they caught him."

Grant said he feels his team has improved greatly since the jamboree game against Charles Henderson on Aug. 25.

"We were better this week on our assignments," he said, "especially when we were fresh. When we’re fresh we can probably play with anybody around here. Last week, in the third quarter we were leading the ball game and we led this one for a long time. We just ran out of gas."

Grant said much of next week would be spent trying to get people healthy in preparation for next Friday night’s regional contest against Lanett.

"Depth was my biggest concern coming into this season and it still is," he said.