STATESBORO — After halftime, the Memorial Day Matadors took to the field five minutes before Bulloch Academy. The Gators sent out the kicker and quarterback Fischer Oglesby to throw the ball around and stay loose.
The rest of Pat Collins’ squad trotted out to the field and, with a 23 point lead, casually went through a short warmup.
Across the field, the Matadors vigorously pushed through stretches and had a sense of urgency about them. They also received the ball first in the second half and wanted nothing more than to get themselves back in this game on the road.
Bulloch held strong and forced a three and out, gave the ball back to Oglesby and the offense and worked the ball down to pick up their second win of the season, 43-6.
“I was very pleased in the second half that after a very stern redirection at halftime about self control, I thought we came out and acted and played like we’re supposed to play,” Collins said.
The game wasn’t all Bulloch, with Memorial running an efficient eight play, 80 yard drive to match the Gators’ opening drive. The Matadors would fall a yard short on the two point conversion.
Something had to change in Bulloch’s defense as Oglesby went back to work on offense.
“Coach Dodson, Coach Scot and Coach Sumner made adjustments strictly about attitude,” Collins said. “Schematically, we did the exact same things that they scored on the first drive. You have to line up correctly and be sound where you are, but what’s most important is you have to play with emotion, you have to play with intensity and you can't do things that are going to aid your opponent.”
Up by nine, the defense took the field again.
They stopped the Memorial run game, but on third down, the first blemish was seen on the same drive. On the third down, Dre’shawn Pinkston overthrew his receiver, but a roughing the passer penalty would keep the Matadors moving.
Two more stops on the ground and then another roughing the passer penalty extended the drive once again. Collins talked to his team at halftime about the sloppiness in penalties in the first half.
“I did feel like we were very sloppy. With penalties, I’m very disappointed with the lack of self discipline we had,” Collins said.
“The mentality seriously was that if we’re going to become a really good team, we have to have self discipline. We corrected that. The challenge at halftime was ‘let’s go out and see if we can play a disciplined half.’”
The second half was clean for the most part. Sophomore Rodney Hill continued to add to his five touchdown night, the defense wasn’t letting Memorial Day go anywhere and the special teams continued to give the Gators a field position advantage.
“I was very pleased with our special teams,” Collins said. “Olan Anderson again positively affects field position with his great, great kicking. We are fortunate to have a great kicking game.”
Hill played the whole game, except the last offensive drive of the game. The sophomore finished with 118 yards and four touchdowns on the ground to go with his added touchdown through the air on a 20 yard catch.
Collins expected the athleticism and talent to shine from Hill. He gave much of the praise to the offensive line.
“I’d be remiss...if we did not mention this offensive line that is very selfless in front of Rodney and in front of our quarterback and in front of our backs,” he said. “Coach Will Collins works with those guys and they asserted their will throughout this game.”
At 2-1, the Gators will open region play next Friday night at home against Westfield School.