Last week Bulloch Academy stunned Savannah Country Day with a smashmouth 32-2 victory that made history of sorts. It marked the Gators first ever win over a GHSA school.
The euphoria of that victory came crashing to earth Friday night as Calvary Day unleased a balanced offense and dominating defense to pound Bulloch Academy, 48-7.
It was a 14-7 game at the half as the Gators were hanging with the Cavaliers but everything fell apart in the third quarter when Calvary scored four times to turn the game into a rout.
“We had to fight tooth and nail in the first half,” Coach Steve Pennington said. “We had a great opportunity to go into the half tied but we just made too many crazy mistakes.”
Down 14-7 the Gators had a first down at the Calvary 36 only to have the next three plays net only four yards. At that time Bulloch Academy had controlled the ball as it had run off 29 plays to the Cavs 18.
That all changed in the blink of an eye in the opening minutes of the second half.
It started when Cameron Selders shocked the Gators by returning Olen Anderson’s kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and on the following possession Tyler Willoughby’s second down pass fell incomplete.
Calvary alertly jumped on the ball and when the officials ruled it was a fumble the Cavs were in business on the BA 29-yard line. From there they scored in eight plays with freshman Jake Merklinger going in from the one.
With 7:28 to play the Cavaliers had a 28-7 lead and it was all but over as Bulloch Academy was dominated at the line of scrimmage.
Calvary opened the scoring when the freshman Merklinger, who also threw two touchdown passes, sneaked in from the one.
The Gators battled back to tie it at 7-7 when Willoughby and Miller Pope teamed up on an 8-yard pass play and Anderson made the extra point with nine seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
Calvary gave a precursor of what was to come in the second half when Army commit Greg Daniel broke loose on a 77-yard scoring run. A Gator missed tackle at the first level enabled Daniel to break it loose down the left sideline.
The Cavaliers rolled up 408 yards total offense, 285 on the ground, while the Gators struggled to move the ball in the second half.
Bulloch Academy 79 yards total offense in the second half but was unable to run the ball in the second half or protect Willoughby when he attempted to pass. The Gators finished with 51 yards, 32 on the ground.
Rodney Hill was limited to 38 yards on nine carries with his long run of the night being a 14-yard gain in the first quarter.
It was the first meeting between the two schools since 1985 when both were members of the Southeastern Association of Independent Schools which evolved into the Georgia Independent Schools Association (GISA).
The game brought together two coaches who each have more than 200 wins in a combined 60 seasons as head coaches. Pennington is in his 31st season with a 205-133-4 record while Calvary’s Mark Stroud is now 219-102 in his 29th season. It was the first time they had faced one another