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BA playoff dreams end with Windsor loss

Three interceptions, two fumbles and one large Windsor Academy fullback named Dillion Mitchell stopped Bulloch Academy’s quest for a Class AA playoff berth.

            Bulloch threw three interceptions, had two first-half fumbles and couldn’t stop the 6-3, 215-pounder as the Knights downed BA 28-20 Friday night to spoil not only the Gators’ homecoming but their chances to advance to the playoffs.

            Mitchell rushed for 252 yards and scored three touchdowns as the Knights (9-1 overall and 2-1 in Region 2-AA) nailed down the region’s second seed and the right to compete in the opening round of the GISA Class AA playoffs in two weeks. The Gators will end their season next week when they host Memorial Day School.

            Bulloch (7-3, 1-2) went into the locker room with a 20-15 lead after a wild and wooly first half.

            Windsor opened the game with an onside kick. Taylor Lanier covered up the bouncing ball, giving BA good field position. The Gators took advantage of it on their first play from scrimmage when quarterback Jordan Walker hit a wide-open Ethan Lovett on a 47-yard slant. The PAT was missed, giving BA a 6-0 lead.

            The Knights came right back just three plays later when Mitchell broke through a seam, broke some tackles and hustled 69 yards for the score. Kent Gibson’s PAT gave WA a 7-6 lead at the 10:48 mark.

            BA took a 14-7 lead late in the quarter when Walker picked off a Seth Fuller pass and returned it 35 yards for the score. Darion Carter connected with Will Powell on a two-point conversion pass.

            A second-quarter fumble by Carter at the Gator 24 early in the second quarter set up Windsor’s next score. Gibson ran off right tackle, cut back to the middle and raced 22 yards to paydirt. Gibson’s pass to Mitchell put the Knights ahead 15-14 with 10:21 left in the half.

            On Bulloch’s next possession, it only took the Gators six plays for retake the lead. Walker, who was 11-of-21 for a career-high 251 yards, hit a wide-open Powell on a perfect 36-yard strike. The two-point conversion failed, leaving Bulloch with a 20-15 lead at the 7:40 mark.

            The Knights dominated the remainder of the quarter, using a punishing ground game to eat up the clock. But, 18 plays later, it was the Gator defense which rose to the occasion, stopping WA on a fourth-and-long at the BA 11.

            Windsor took over in the third as the Knights’ committee of running backs ground out yardage and the WA defense contained Bulloch’s highly-touted triple option. Still, the Gators had success through the air but they just couldn’t get the ball into the end zone.

            But WA could and did at the 5:17 mark of the third when Mitchell scored his second TD of the night. On Windsor’s second series, he blasted through the middle, shedding tacklers as he rumbled 51 yards to the end zone. The two-point attempt failed, leaving Windsor with a 21-20 advantage.

            After BA’s Taylor Burke threw an interception deep in Gator territory, the BA defense rose to the challenge and repelled another Windsor scoring threat.

            Bulloch, on Walker’s arm, looked poised to retake the lead as the Gators rushed down the field. But the drive stalled in the Knight red zone and Powell was called upon for a 32-yard field goal at the 9:24 mark of the fourth quarter. His attempt seemed to have the distance but the ball flew just under the crossbar.

            With time winding down, both defenses stiffened and traded interceptions. After Windsor’s Fuller interception Carter at the 2:58 mark, the Knights seemed content to run out the clock. But not Mitchell, as he broke loose on his third long scoring run of the night, a 61-yarder with 1:11 left in the game.

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