Coming off a disappointing loss last week, the Bulloch Academy Gators were looking to right the ship when they returned home to take on Robert Toombs Christian Academy.
It turned out the Crusaders were just what the Gators needed as they jumped out to an early lead and cruised to an easy 55-7 victory over the outmatched Crusaders.
The Gators (3-5) wasted little time getting on the board, scoring on their third play from scrimmage. After Jackson Perry recovered an RTCA (1-8) fumble, Isaiah Smart took the handoff and ran in from 10 yards out. A Johnnie Hood PAT put the Gators up 7-0.
Bulloch Academy reached in to their bag of tricks late in the first quarter for their second score. Quarterback Ben Aaron threw a backwards pass to Wesley Joyce who gathered it and then fired a 33-yard strike to Harrison Wren, who was one of three Gators wide open, for the second score of the night.
“That was something we worked on this week,” BA Head Coach Steve Pennington said of the play. “It’s something different, something fun and our players rallied around it. It’s fun in practice and it’s even more fun when it’s executed in the game.”
Defensive end Bryant Richards recovered another RTCA fumble on the opening play of the second quarter. Two plays later, Bryson Scott rumbled 33-yards to the corner of the end zone to give the Gators a 21-0 lead.
Bulloch Academy’s defense stepped up again to force their fourth turnover of the first half just three plays later when Malone Cason stepped in front of a pass and took it back 20-yards for the score as the rout was one.
Aaron got in to the scoring act on the next Gator possession, finishing off a two-play, 31 yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 35-0.
Smart finished off the first-half scoring with a two-yard score with 1:25 remaining before halftime.
One of the only blemishes for the Gators was a failed two-point conversion attempt
In addition to creating four turnovers in the first half, the Gator defense held RTCA to 64 yards and only two first downs and the Crusaders had seven plays go for negative yards. The Crusaders ended up with 127 yards in total offense for the night.
“Honestly, we started out a tad slow on defense because of their option game,” Pennington said. “We had a hard time simulating in in practice. But we were able to make some adjustments to what they were doing and really took away their bread and butter.”
“One of the things I think that really helped us defensively is that we had four and five players to the ball every single time,” he said. “We played with great intensity and we played physical football and created four tunovers.”
With a running clock in effect for the entire second half, the Gators only had two possessions, but managed to keep the points coming on both of them. Quarterback Brennan Perossa capped off a five play, 65-yard drive with an 11-yard keeper.
Luke Willoughby added the final touchdown of the night with a 10-yard run that finished off a 76 yard drive that took 10 plays.
Bulloch Academy finished the night with 333 total yards of offense, including 241 on the ground.
Offensively, Pennington saw a lot that he liked from his team.
“Our offensive line did a great job controlling the line of scrimmage. We got our receivers involved early on with a quick passing game in which we were very productive. Our running backs certainly ran very hard. We did turn the ball over once and we’re not proud of that,” he said. “Our quarterbacks have done a super job of managing the game and giving us the best option within the plays that we ran.”
Bulloch Academy now turns its attention to their final two games of the season, both region games, starting with St. Andrews at home next week and then ending the season on the road against Pinewood Christian.
“There’s still a lot that this team can do moving forward and it’s up to us coaches to make sure we put our players in the best position to achieve that success.”