A season that saw Bulloch Academy reach as high as number two in the polls came to an early, disappointing end at Gator Alley as the Gators fell 34-27 in the first round of the GISA AAA state playoffs to Frederica Academy.
The Gators (7-3) defense had been stingy all season but struggled to contain Knights’ freshman running back Jordan Triplett, especially in the second half when Frederica switched to a wildcat formation with Triplett taking the snap. The freshman scored four times, three times in the second half on an 85-yard score and two 52-yard runs, to provide the difference.
Trailing by 15 points late in the final quarter, Gator quarterback Tyler Willoughby found receiver Harrison Kennedy down the right sideline for a quick 82-yard strike to pull BA to within seven following the two-point conversion. The Gators had a chance to recover the onside kick, but the Knights were able to fall on the ball and get the one first down they needed to run out the clock.
Bulloch Academy struck first when Willoughby was able to find the end zone from eight yards out on the Gators’ opening possession. The score was set up by a 68-yard run by Rodney Hill.
After the Knights (8-3) tied it up, Hill looked to put the Gators back on top as he appeared to score on a 62-yard run. However, a penalty called the play back and the Gators ended up punting on the drive.
Midway through the second quarter, the Knights embarked on a 10-play, 86 yard drive capped off by a seven-yard run by Triplett to put Frederica up 14-7.
Bulloch Academy answered just before halftime. Hill pulled down a 50-yard pass from Willoughby to give the Gators the ball at the Knights’ 20. On the next play, Cam Harrison went 20 yards for the score, but the extra point was missed and the Gators went in to halftime down 14-13.
Neither team was able to do much early in the third quarter with the team trading punts on several drives. Bulloch Academy looked to steal momentum when they intercepted a Frederica pass, giving them great field position at the Knighs’ 24-yard line, but two plays later the Knights picked off a Willoughby pass in the endzone.
Following a penalty, it was Triplett who would take over for the Knights as he took the direct snap and raced 85 yards for the score to put the Knights up 20-13 following a missed extra point.
But the Gators again responded, this time going 54 yards and a methodical 11-play drive, capped off by a one-yard run by Willoughby to trim the lead to 20-19 with 6:30 remaining in the game.
Triplett then scored the Knights’ next two possessions, both 52-yard scoring runs as he ended the night with four touchdowns and more than 200 yards rushing.
Kennedy’s late score cut the final margin to 34-27, but Frederica was able to run out the clock and advance to the second round of the playoffs and end BA’s season.
The Gators’ offense was able to pup up 345 total yards on the night, including 183 through the air, but defensively the surrendered 383 yards to the Knights.
Frederica advances to play Tiftarea Academy next week. Tiftarea upset Pinewood Christian 28-7 Friday night.