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Gators pound Patriots
Bulloch Academy running back Jake Nelson, top, steps through a tackle attempt by Pinewood defender Wade Durrence into the end zone for a first quarter touchdown Friday at Gator Alley. Nelson scored a pair of touchdowns and rushed for a game-high 117 yards as the Gators defeated their arch rivals for the second time this season. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Second verse – same as the first.

In a rarity for high school football, Bulloch Academy and arch rival Pinewood Christian matched up for the second time this season Friday night at Gator Alley. Bulloch took the first meeting with a 42-8 victory in the Erk Russell Classic back in August. The rematch played out much the same as the Gators rolled to another huge win, this time by a 48-8 margin. 

Despite the season-opening win, the Gators (6-1, 1-0 Region 2-AAA) were wary of what Pinewood (2-6, 0-2) would have in store.

“Pinewood was off last week and had two weeks to prepare,” BA coach Pat Collins said. “Then you look at us this week and only getting in two days of practice because of the storm. 

“I know a lot of people over at Pinewood. They’re very proud of their team, especially when playing against Bulloch Academy. I thought they played very hard and I’m glad our guys responded to the challenge.”

As usual, the Gators did most of their damage on the ground.

Jake Nelson opened the scoring with a 38-yard romp around the right side on the Gators’ first possession of the night and he went on to lead all rushers with 10 rushes for 117 yards, including another 10-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter.

Overall, Bulloch ran the ball 36 times for 332 yards and outgained the Patriots 454-239 overall.

Pinewood took the game’s opening kickoff and was into BA territory after just two plays. The Patriots drove just shy of the Gator red zone before a 4th-and-2 conversion attempt failed on a contested jump ball in the end zone.

The Gators responded with a quick drive and Nelson’s first touchdown. When Pinewood regained possession, freshman defensive lineman Malone Cason dropped Mic Wasson for sacks on two straight plays. The Patriots punted away and Bulloch began its methodical march to another big win.

“I thought our defense played smart and fast,” Collins said. “We made some big plays whenever they started to drive and effectively got the shutout until the final couple of minutes.”

Trailing 22-0 coming out of halftime, Pinewood attempted an onside kick to begin the third quarter. Bulloch jumped on it and – two plays later – Don Aaron found Rodney Hill wide open on the left side for a 39-yard touchdown pass. 

Aaron added a 5-yard touchdown run just over three minutes later and Ty Mingle scored the second of his two rushing touchdowns late in the third quarter on a 15-yard burst through the middle to set the running clock in motion throughout the final quarter.

The Patriots cracked the board late in the fourth quarter when Wasson found Logan Lewis on a 10-yard hookup. Bulloch ended the scoring with a 1-yard plunge from Tyler Willoughby just before the running clock expired.

Bulloch Academy now braces for a road trip as it continues region play. Next Friday, the Gators will head up I-16 for a date with Trinity Christian School of Dublin.