Bulldogs edge Aliceville, 14-6

Published 11:35 pm Thursday, November 5, 2015

Messenger photo/Joey Meredith

Messenger photo/Joey Meredith

The Pike County Bulldogs did just enough to advance to the second round of playoffs by defeating the Aliceville Yellow Jackets 14-6 on Thursday.

Wet and soggy conditions meant both teams had trouble keeping their footing, but the Bulldogs’ strong defense showed proved to be the difference.

“We made some mistakes but our guys played well enough to win,” said Bulldog head coach Fred Holland. “We are proud of our guys tonight.”

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The game started on an exciting note, as the Bulldogs kicked off to the Yellow Jackets and were able to strip the ball away on the return, with Eligha Lampley recovering the fumble and running all the way back for a touchdown to give the Bulldogs an early 7-0 lead.

“We try to force turnovers and that’s what we did,” Holland said. “We stress the importance of special teams. It’s something that we take a lot of pride in.”

The Bulldogs have impressed all season long on the defensive side of the ball and that rolled into the first half, as well. After the opening kickoff score, both the defenses held the opposite team to five straight three-and-outs.

The Bulldogs were able to break the trend early in the second quarter when go to player Deshon Cowling scored from 12-yards out to increase the Bulldogs lead to 14-0.

The Cowling touchdown run was set up by his 33-yard punt return that gave the Bulldogs a first down on the Yellow Jacket 22 yard line. A facemask penalty improved the field position, setting up the touchdown run.

Special teams helped lead the Bulldogs all evening long. Along with the opening fumble on the kick off and big return by Cowling, the Bulldogs were in plus territory all evening long.

“Coach always tells us that special teams play can win or lose games for you,” Cowling said. “Today it helped us win the game. If it wasn’t for that punt return, it probably would have been 6-8.”

Cowling led the Bulldogs offense in the first half with 40 yards rushing on eight carries and one touchdown.

Special teams stepped up against near the end of the third quarter. After the Bulldogs held the Yellow Jackets offense to three-and-out, Anfernee Feagin blocked the punt giving the Bulldogs possession on the Yellow Jacket 39-yard line.

The Bulldogs could not capitalize on the blocked punt and untimely penalties paved the way for a Bulldog punt as time expired in the third quarter.

The Trojans got the ball back with 6:46 remaining in the game. On third down Jahzarian Lampley received the hand off from Jerrell Lawson. While trying to break tackles, the ball was stripped and recovered by the Yellow Jackets and taken into the end zone for a touchdown. After a failed two-point conversion attempt the Bulldogs held a 14-6 lead.

The Bulldogs got the ball back with 2:42 remaining in the game with the goal of running out the clock. Cowling took sole responsibility and ran the ball for 18 yards on the drive. It was not enough as the Bulldogs had to punt the ball back away to the Yellow Jackets.

The Yellow Jackets took possession on their own 12-yard line with 90 seconds remaining in the game. They got a quick 32 yards on first down setting up a first down near midfield. From there the Bulldogs defense stiffened and turned the ball over on downs to secure the win.

Cowling led the way offensively for the Bulldogs finishing with 139 yards rushing and one touchdown.

“I’m glad we got the win,” Cowling said. “I don’t think we played very well, but we got the win and that’s all that matters. Sometimes you have to put your team on your back. We faced a lot of adversity out here.”

The win for the Bulldogs advances them to the second round where they will play the winner of Central-Coosa and T.R. Miller. “We made some mistakes,” Holland said. “We have to come back in and clean up some things and get ready for our next opponent.”