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Bulldogs hand Yellow Jackets first loss

ABBEVILLE — Jerelle Bailey showed last week’s breakout performance wasn’t a fluke Friday night.

The Pike County quarterback accounted for 316 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns Friday, leading the Bulldogs to a 45-30 shootout over Abbeville in a Class 3A, Region 2 and top 10 showdown.

The win pushes the seventh-ranked Bulldogs (4-0, 3-0) into sole possession in the region. Abbeville, ranked ninth in the state, fell to 3-1, 2-1.

“These guys played like champions,” Pike County head coach Robert Johnson said. “We told them that champions rise to the occasion and they rose to the occasion.”

Pike County scored on its first five possessions and stayed ahead by two scores throughout the game despite a charging Abbeville offense that racked up five scores and 331 yards of offense.

Abbeville’s inability to convert two-point conversions also aided to that as the Jackets failed on all five tries.

Bailey, however, was the major reason Pick County stayed ahead. He rushed for 158 yards on 28 carries and four touchdowns and completed 8-of-12 passes for 158 yards and two more scores with one interception.

The effort comes after earning 417 all-purpose yards and four scores in a 27-14 win over Dale County last week.

“He could be a player of week (candidate) in the state again,” Johnson said. “He is for real. It is nice to coach athletes like that.”

A key 85-yard kickoff return by Tyshin Dawson that set up a score with 25 seconds left in the half was also pivotal for Pike County. The return and ensuing score came after the Yellow Jackets closed to within one score and appeared to give Abbeville momentum before halftime.

Instead, Pike County went up 27-12 and took the momentum to the locker room.

“It was a backbreaker,” Johnson said. “That was tough on their emotion.”

Lost in the offensive fireworks was a solid rush defense by Pike County, which contained the Wiregrass leading rusher Andre Kincey. The Yellow Jacket standout came in averaging 207 yards a game, but was held to 55 yards on 16 carries.

Johnson said Pike County coaches made personnel changes at linebacker to help stop Kincey, inserting Kendrick Jackson and Jeremy Rumph into starting roles in place of Dominic MIlls and Jacquez Walker.

“We started two new linebackers for speed reasons,” Johnson said. “Those guys played their tails off. I was proud of them.

“The guys that got their place taken, they responded like champions too. I was so proud how they reacted. They did what was best for the team and played their tails off.

“Abbeville has incredible speed, but I think we ran with them.”

Abbeville scored on the opening series of the second half on a Kincey 9-yard run, but missed the two point try.

Bailey fired a 42-yard scoring pass to Jackson as the two hooked up a pump-and-go fake then Abbeville answered with a 25-yard run by Marqavious King.

The Bulldogs extended the lead to 39-24 when Bailey scored from 19 yards before Abbeville’s Gochett hit a 23-yard scoring pass to Kincey to cut the margin to nine.

Bailey finished the scoring on a 17-yard run with 2:03 left.

Gochett completed 13-of-22 for 195 yards for Abbeville with two scores, but also threw two picks.