The Bulloch Academy Gators took an early lead and looked to be settled in for a defensive struggle, but Augusta Christian recorded three unanswered scores, denied a potential go-ahead conversion in the final minutes and added a late touchdown to top the Gators by a count of 26-18 Friday night in Augusta.
Bulloch (1-1) took leads of 6-0 and 12-6 before the Lions connected on a short field goal to make it 12-9 at halftime. The two teams traded scoreless possessions out of the break before Augusta Christian (2-0) powered over the goal line to claim a 16-12 lead with 1:14 to play in the third quarter.
“We had several chances to extend the lead - maybe go up three scores early on,” Bulloch coach Aaron Phillips said. “We had some turnovers and some very costly penalties that really hurt us. I liked the effort our guys showed, but those are the sort of things we have to fix.”
The Bulloch offense continued to sputter and the Lions pressed out to a full touchdown lead on another field goal with just over five minutes remaining in the game.
With urgency aiding the efforts, the Gator offense finally found its second wind and stormed down the field. Luke Willoughby raced in from 15 yards out to make it 19-18. Sensing the momentum, Bulloch Academy tried to retake the lead with a two-point conversion, but the Lions held strong.
“We made the decision to try and go for the win on the road,” Phillips said. “Give (Augusta Christian) credit. They were able to stop us.”
To make matters worse, Bulloch allowed a quick answer from the Augusta offense and another Lion touchdown made it 26-18 with 2:14 to play.
The Gators once again hit the gas and moved down the field. It was still a one-score game and the Lions' defense was on its heels, but came up with the game-clinching play as it forced and recovered a fumble inside its own 10-yard line with just under a minute to go.
Unable to stop the clock, Bulloch had to watch Augusta kneel out the final seconds as it absorbed its first loss of the 2022 campaign.
“We probably gained more yards tonight than we did last week and in our two scrimmages, combined,” Phillips said. “We’re knocking out points and rushing the ball. We just have to sharpen our teeth. When you smell blood, you’ve got to go get it.”
Bulloch Academy will enjoy a bye week before looking to get back to its winning ways. The Gators once again hit the road Sept. 9 for a trip to Trinity Christian in Dublin.