Playoff Thriller: PCHS stuns ACA

Published 10:24 pm Friday, November 11, 2022

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The Pike County Bulldogs (8-3) pulled off an improbable comeback on Friday night, defeating the Alabama Christian Academy Eagles (8-4) by a score of 41-39 in the second round of the Class 3A State Playoffs, despite trailing by 25 points at one point.

After getting down big in the first half, the Bulldogs rallied and with 5:13 left in the fourth quarter, PCHS quarterback Omari Barrow tossed a 40-yard touchdown pass to Ian Foster to cut the lead to 39-34.

Pike County then recovered an onside kick but a Bulldog touched the ball before it traveled 50 yards, giving ACA the ball at midfield. Still, the Dawgs forced a three-and-out and then blocked the ensuing punt.

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Barrow connected with Foster again on a 31-yard touchdown pass with 1:30 left to give Pike County it’s first lead of the game, 41-39. ACA returned the ensuing kickoff up to midfield and the Eagles then tossed a 38-yard pass down to the Pike County 12 with under a minute left.

Pike County defensive lineman Virgil Thompson buried an Eagle runner for a 14-yard loss on the next play. With under 11 seconds left, ACA was forced to attempt a 40-yard field goal but the Bulldogs blocked it to secure the improbable upset and advance to the Class 3A Quarterfinals.

ACA wasted no time jumping on the Bulldogs, racing to a 25-0 lead in the first quarter, including three touchdowns, a safety and a field goal. The Bulldogs finally got going when Omari Barrow scampered on a 25-yard run deep into Eagle territory for the first time. A few plays later Zay Carlisle cashed in a 1-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 25-7.

As the second quarter began, Pike County linebacker Markelis Hobdy intercepted an Eagle pass and raced 45 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead down to 25-14. Late in the half, Barrow threw a 35-yard pass to Foster to set up a 30-yard field goal try that fell short. ACA took the 25-14 lead into halftime.

Pike County opened the second half with a 40-yard pass from Barrow to Foster and then Nemo Williams scored on a 6-yard run to cut the lead to 25-21 and make the game a one-possession lead for the first time since early in the first quarter.

ACA got right back into scoring position, however, on a 70-yard run. The Bulldogs, though, forced losses on the next three straight plays and ACA’s 23-yard field goal attempt was no good. Pike County had ACA stopped twice on its next possession – once on a Foster interception and another time on third-and-long – but penalties gave the Eagles new life. A reverse pass for a touchdown extended the ACA lead to 32-21 going into the fourth quarter.

Barrow threw a 25-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 10:06 left in the fourth quarter. A two-point try was no good, but PCHS cut the lead to 32-27. ACA then scored on a 42-yard touchdown run with less than 7:00 remaining to extend the lead back out to 39-27 before Pike County scored 14 unanswered points to secure the win.

ACA actually won the stat sheet, tallying 402 total yards to Pike County’s 337 total yards and rolled up 301 yards on the ground, but in the second half, Pike County outgained ACA 226-183 and outscored the Eagles 27-14 in the half. The Bulldogs scored 20 points in the fourth quarter alone.

Barrow completed 14-of-22 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns with Foster grabbing five catches for 155 yards and three touchdowns. Nemo Williams rushed for 58 yards and a score on 16 carries.

On defense, Khalil Foster tallied 10 tackles and 0.5 tackle-for-loss, while Ja’quan Sweeney had nine tackles, one tackle-for-loss and 0.5 sack. Markelis Hobdy earned eight tackles, two tackles-for-loss and an interception return for a touchdown, while Que Carter netted eight tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss and a blocked kick.

Pike County’s win puts the Bulldogs back in the Class 3A Quarterfinals for the first time since 2018, lining up a showdown with Mobile Christian next Friday night at home.