Coming off an impressive 32-2 thrashing of Savannah Country day in their season opener, the Bulloch Academy Gators were looking to keep on rolling last Friday as they hit the road for Calvary Day. Unfortunately for the Gators the road hit back.
Things went well for most of the first half as the Gators erased a 7-0 deficit with a touchdown pass from Tyler Willoughby to Miller Pope. The Cavs answered before the half on a long touchdown run for a 14-7 lead. The big plays continued in the second half starting with a 99-yard kickoff return for a score, and things snowballed from there with the Gators falling 48-7.
“We were very fortunate to hang in there for most of the first half,” said Bulloch Academy coach Steve Pennington. “We gave up a big play at the end of the first half, and then another big play to start the second half and we just weren’t able to recover. We really shot ourselves in the foot for most of that game. I don’t want to take anything away from Calvary because they are a very good football team.”
Pennington also felt like the atmosphere was unlike anything most of the players had seen before, and felt like once Calvary gained the momentum it really hurt the Gator players.
“The game was being televised, and our kids knew it,” said Pennington. “They had the stands packed and you could see the wide eyes and nervousness before the game. Hopefully we can take this as a learning opportunity and be able to call on it if we are ever in a similar atmosphere later on in the year.”
This week the Gator will get a chance to play an opponent they are more familiar with, in a place they feel more comfortable with. Friday the Gators square off against the team that knocked them out of the state playoffs last year as Tiftarea returns to Gator Alley.
The Panthers come to Statesboro with a 1-0 record having beaten Community Christian in a shootout last week 43-20 in Stockbridge. Tiftarea is led by quarterback Dylan Harbort who threw for 115 yards and two touchdowns last week. The dual threat quarterback also rushed for 99 yards and two more scores.
“We know they have some good football over in Tifton,” said Penngton. “We lost to them 17-14 last year on a field goal in a heavy rainstorm and know they have some athletes, particularly at quarterback. This game will be a lot more of a level field as far as the numbers of players on each team.”
They are coming off a victory, while we are coming off a defeat,” said Pennington. “The good thing is we have this game at home. It is a chance for our team to rebound, prove our worth and prove that we are getting better.”
The Gators and Panthers are set to get things underway Friday night at 7:30 at Gator Alley.