Pike County upsets Trinity in AHSAA playoffs

Published 11:56 pm Friday, November 8, 2013

MONTGOMERY — A cold Alabama night and a stingy Trinity Presbyterian defense were not enough to cool off Lamarcus Adair and the rest of the Pike County Bulldogs who walked off the field 21-14 victors over the ninth-ranked Wildcats.

Pike County jumped out to an early lead on the legs of Adair. After forcing the Wildcats in to a three-and-out on their first possession of the game, the Bulldogs took over on their own 20-yard line.

Pike County fed Adair early and often on the opening drive. At one point, Adair ran the ball on five consecutive plays. The Bulldogs marched 80 yards down the field on a nine minute drive, and quarterback Jerrell Lawson found Ryshaun Hall on a nine-yard post to open the scoring for the Bulldogs. Antonio Vaznaian was true on the extra point to put Pike County up 7-0.

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The Pike County defense forced another Trinity punt, giving the Bulldogs the ball at their own 21-yard line. Pike County once again moved the ball methodically down the field on the legs of Adair and the arm of Lawson. Adair punched the ball in from one yard out on a toss to cap off the 79 yard drive. A missed extra point kept the Bulldogs up 13-0.

Trinity found the scoreboard on their next possession. The Wildcats moved the ball 72 yards on 12 plays, and quarterback Ben Jones found Jack Albritton in the end zone. Jake Engle knocked in the extra point to cut the Bulldog lead to 13-7.

With just under four minutes left in the first half, Pike County gained possession and drove the ball down to the Wildcat 20-yard line, but an offsides penalty stalled the drive, and the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs with 58 seconds left in the half.

The Wildcats promptly moved the ball to the Bulldog 25-yard line, but Engle missed a 35-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.

Pike County received the ball to open the second half, but could only move the ball as far as the 50 before punting away to the Wildcats.

The Bulldog defense came up big again, forcing a three-and-out on the Wildcats’ opening possession of the half.

Pike County moved the ball down to the Trinity 16-yard line, and it appeared that Adair scored his second touchdown of the night on a 16 yard run, but the touchdown was called back on a holding penalty. The Bulldogs would come to regret the penalty three plays later when Lawson fumbled a snap on the five-yard line that was recovered by the Wildcats.

The Bulldog defense flexed its muscles and returned the ball to the offense by forcing Trinity in to another three-and-out. Pike County took over at the Trinity 45-yard line, and on the first play of the fourth quarter, Lawson sneaked the ball in to the end zone for a Bulldog touchdown. Lawson connected with Adair on the two point conversion to give the Bulldogs a 21-7 lead with 11:54 to go in the ball game.

With Trinity marching down the field, the Bulldog defense displayed its ballhawking ability. Ryshaun Hall forced a Trinity fumble which Vaznaian recovered at the Pike County 47-yard line.

The Bulldogs could not capitalize on the turnover, but they did burn six minutes off the clock.

The Pike County defense made another clutch play on the Wildcats next drive. Kamari Jackson intercepted a Jones interception to give the Bulldogs the ball at their own 30-yard line.

A holding penalty stalled the Bulldogs and forced them in to a three-and-out to end a drive that lasted just over a minute.

Trinity took over with 2:41 left in the game and scored when Jones connected with John Hall to bring the score to 21-14.

Chris Adair recovered the ensuing onside kick, and three runs from his big brother Lamarcus sealed the win for the Bulldogs.

After the game, head coach Fred Holland said the win was a big step for his program. “This win is extremely big for us,” Holland said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been in the playoffs, and it’s been even longer since we won a game. I can’t say enough about how hard the guys work and the job the coaching staff has done.”

Holland said adjustments made at halftime were key in the victory. “The staff did such a good job making adjustments at halftime,” Holland said. “We came up against some adversity early, but we made some good adjustments to put the game away in the third and fourth quarters. At this stage, if you want to keep playing, you have to be playing well.”

With the victory just minutes under his belt, Holland said the Bulldogs still have a lot of work to do. “We still have a long way to go,” Holland said. “There are a lot of things we need to improve. We’ll keep working on our blocking and tackling. There’s a lot of stuff we’ll be looking at when we come in Monday. We take the games one at a time, and we’ll be ready on Friday.”

Lamarcus Adair led the way for the Bulldogs recording 198 yards and one touchdown on 36 carries. Adair said his offensive line led to his big game. “All the praise goes to my line,” Adair said “They opened the holes for me. It means a lot to me that coach trusts me to run the ball as much as I do. I can tell he believes in me. Next week, we just have to keep doing what we do.”

Holland praised Adair for his physical running. “Lamarcus is huge for us,” Holland said. “We are always preaching to him to stay positive. We rely on him in tough situations. I can’t say enough about his effort.”

The Bulldogs will have a week to prepare for their next opponent Bayside Academy.