Bulldogs head to third round with double overtime win

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 18, 2001

Sports Writer

SPRINGVILLE – In double-overtime, Pike County head coach Wayne Grant surprised everyone in Tiger Stadium as he called on sophomore placekicker Nick Walker to attempt a game winning field goal on first and goal from the 10-yard line.

Walker, with Pike County’s playoff hopes resting on his foot, remained poised and sailed a line-drive kick through the uprights to advance the Bulldogs to the third round of the playoffs with the 31-28 victory over the Springville Tigers.

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"I knew I had to step up big," said Walker. "We worked hard all summer for this and we weren’t about to give up."

Walker admitted to being nervous and said that thoughts of missing the field goal were racing through his mind.

When asked if this was one of the toughest wins in his coaching career Grant said that it was pretty close.

"When we made the decision to kick the field goal I said ‘We kick better than they do, let’s go ahead and win it. Let’s get out of here."

This was the second year in a row that the two teams met in the playoffs and the second year that Pike County came away with a win. Last year PCHS dropped the Tigers 34-7 in the first round, but this year was a different story and the Bulldogs were one point away from being ousted from the state playoffs.

After a punt on Pike County’s first possession, Springville took over and used an eight-play drive, that covered 66 yards, to jump out to an early 6-0 lead. Elijah Daniel broke through the line to block the extra point attempt.

On the next drive Pike County started at their own 46-yard line after a nice kick return by Chris Nickson. The Bulldogs reached the endzone after only four plays. Nickson, under heavy pressure from the Tigers’ defensive line, hit Daniel on a slant across the middle for a 34 yard touchdown. PCHS took a 7-6 lead with 4:02 remaining in the first quarter.

The Bulldogs had another opportunity to score as Springville’s return man couldn’t get a handle on the ball and PCHS recovered the fumble at the Springville 26 yard line. On the next play, though, Antwann McGuire had the ball stripped after picking up 20 yards on a pass from Nickson.

On offense, Pike County gained 63 yards rushing in the first half and 128 yards passing. In the last two minutes of the first half the Bulldogs scored twice on offense and once on defense. At the Tigers’ 24-yard line, Nickson again eluded pressure and fired over the middle to Daniel for the score. Walker’s extra point was no good and with 1:47 left in the second quarter the Bulldogs’ lead increased to 13-6 over Springville.

The Tigers set up first and 10 at their own 11-yard line following the kickoff. After an incomplete pass, Springville quarterback Nick Roberts, on second down and 10, rolled left and then scrambled out of the pocket. Senior defensive end Thurston Lee pursued Roberts and sacked him in the endzone for an 11-yard loss and a 15-6 Bulldog lead.

Springville kicked off from their 15-yard line following the safety with 1:27 left in the half. The PCHS offense scored again with 14 seconds remaining in the first half as Terrell Gray scored from one-yard out.

Joey Spikner intercepted Roberts’ pass to end the first half and preserve Pike County’s 22-6 halftime lead.

The Bulldogs’ offense went cold in the second half and they were held to 39 yards rushing and no yards passing. The Tigers took advantage of Pike County’s second half drought and tacked on 16 unanswered points behind the leadership of Roberts and the running of tailback Jeremy Williamson. Springville ran the speed option to perfection and tied the game at 22-22 to end the third quarter.

Springville had several attempts to gain the lead in the fourth quarter, by kicking a field goal, but instead opted to go for broke on fourth down. It became apparent that the Tigers didn’t have a kicking game as they avoided trying a field goal from the 10-yard line with four minutes left to play and from the 28-yard line with eight seconds remaining in regulation.

Pike County began the overtime period on offense and on first down and 10 from the 10-yard line, Nickson passed to McGuire for a touchdown. But the extra point was blocked and PCHS held on to a narrow 28-22 lead. For the Tigers, Roberts used two runs on a quarterback option keeper to tie the game at 28-28. The Bulldog defense engulfed Roberts on the two-point conversion attempt as he tried another keeper.

The Pike County Bulldogs, 9-3, advance to the third round of the playoffs and will travel to Aliceville,11-1, to take on the No.1 ranked Yellow Jackets. Aliceville defeated Ashford 19-6 in the second round.