By RAHN HUTCHESON
When Edmund Burke’s power and Bulloch Academy’s speed nullified each other Friday night, it was the unexpected which made the difference in the game.
Spartan sophomore quarterback Jeremy Hayes threw two touchdown passes as EBA capitalized on two of three Gator fumbles to take a 26-15 victory in a key Region 2-AA match-up at Gator Alley.
Hayes hit junior receiver Austin Matthews on a 46-yard score early in the opening quarter and then on a 29-yarder in the fourth quarter. EBA workhorse Chad Smith, a 240-pound fullback/tailback, also had two scores.
The Spartans (4-1-1 overall and 1-0 in region play) held a 12-7 halftime lead and increased it to 18-7 in the third quarter. Smith, who rushed for 146 yards on 28 carries, ran like a freight train on a 27-yard score with 4:33 left. The TD capped a time-consuming 10-play drive.
The Gators (3-4, 0-1) were on their way to answering back. Junior quarterback Jordan Walker, working from the shotgun, had completed passes to receivers Will Powell and Ethan Lovett for nine and 18 yards respectively. But the next snap flew over Walker’s head and was recovered by a Spartan player at the Gator 37.
The following EBA drive spilled over into the fourth quarter, but some tough defensive play by the Gators forced EBA in a fourth-and-24 situation at the BA 29. It looked as if the Gators might regain possession of the ball but Hayes let fly a high floater toward the end zone. Matthews outjumped BA defender Dartavious Brown for the ball and came down with the pigskin stretched across the goal line for the score. Smith ran in the two-point conversion with 7:15 left in the game to give the Spartans a 26-7 lead.
Bulloch did march down the field, sparked by a 31-yard run from senior tailback Trevor Darden and a 13-yard hook-up to Powell from Walker. Two plays later, Lovett lined up at wingback, took Walker’s pitch off the option and threaded his way 19 yards to the end zone. Walker hit Powell for the two-point conversion with 4:11 remaining.
Darden finished with 118 yards on 16 carries.
But the Spartans used Smith almost exclusively on the ensuing drive to keep moving both the chains and the clock moving until the scoreboard horn sounded.
Hayes’ first TD pass came on the Spartans’ opening possession. Bulloch came roaring down the field to answer back. Darden notched 35 yards on four plays and Walker had a 12-yard gain down to the EBA 14. But a busted play ended when the Spartans jumped on the bouncing ball to end the Gator drive.
After Bulloch’s defense held EBA to three-and-out deep in Spartan territory, BA’s Brown opened the second quarter with a 25-yard punt return to the EBA 10. Five plays later, Walker plunged over from one yard out. Masters’ kick was good to put BA up 7-6 with 10:02 left in the half.
Bulloch’s defense forced another three-and-out but the EBA punt bounced off punt returner David Poole’s foot as he was trying to get away from it. Then the ball hit BA’s Thomas Brunson and recovered by the Spartans at the BA 47. Eight plays later, on a fourth-and-four situation at the BA 18, Smith got the call and rumbled off tackle for the 12-7 lead.
First Downs 13 11
Rushing Yards 52-215 29-186
Passing Yards 80 54
Total Yards 295 240
Passing 3-5-0 4-9-0
Turnovers 0 3
Penalties 2-15 3-20
Rushing: EBA: Chad Smith 28-146; BA: Trevor Darden 16-118
Passing – EBA: Jeremy Hayes 3-5-0-2, 80; BA: Jordan Walker 4-8-0-0, 54
Receiving – EBA: Austin Matthews 2-75; BA: Ethan Lovett 2-32, Will Powell 2-22.
Ed. Burke 6 6 6 8 — 26
B. Academy 0 7 0 8 — 15
EBA (8:52) Austin Matthews 46 pass from Jeremy Hayes (run failed)
BA (10:02) Jordan Walker 1 run (Jeremiah Masters kick)
EBA (6:09) Smith 18 run (pass failed)
EBA (4:33) Smith 27 run (kick failed)
EBA (7:15) Matthews 29 pass from Hayes (Smith run)
BA (4:11) Ethan Lovett 19 run (Will Powell from Walker)