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BA defense shines in victory
Bulloch Academy senior Jaylen Evans (4) runs 18 yards for a second-quarter touchdown against the Sherwood Academy Eagles. - photo by BRYAN BURKE/Special to the Herald


                  SCA        BA
First Downs        10        16
Rushing Yards    25 -1    151
Passing Yards    171        91
Total Yards        170        242
Comp-Att-Int        8-27-2    5-6-0
Turnovers        2        0
Penalties        4-25        6-60

Rushing: BA: Young 11-58, Evans 6-61; SCA: Green 7-17, Shepard 5-minus 17.
Passing: BA: Waters 5-6-0-1, 91; SCA: Dalton Todd 5-11-1-0, 58.
Receiving: BA: Evans 3-65; SCA: Gaines 4-92.

SCA     0    0    0    7    — 7
BA    10    14    0    7    — 31

1st Quarter
3:30 — Padilla (BA) 25 FG.
:26.5 — Young (BA) 10 run (Padilla kick).
2nd Quarter
6:59 — Evans (BA) 19 run (Padilla kick).
2:34 — Evans (BA) 33 pass from Waters (Padilla kick).
3rd Quarter
10:19—T. Pryor 54 reception from L. Myers (L. Myers run).
2:48—G. Myers 15 run (kick failed).
4th Quarter
10:28 — Evans (BA) 13 run (Padilla kick).
1:39 — Tabb (SCA) 49 pass from Shepard (TJ Clay kick).

   All week long, Bulloch Academy head coach Ronnie Hodges had elevated Sherwood Christian Academy senior running back MJ Green and junior quarterback Brett Shepard to near superstar status.
    But Friday night, the BA defense cut the two down to size with a ferocious pass rush, tight pass coverage and sideline-to-sideline run prevention as the Gators pounded the Eagles 31-7 in GISA Region 1-AAA action.
    Bulloch’s swarming defense held SCA to minus one yard of rushing offense and Green to just 17. Shepard only completed two passes, one for a 49-yard touchdown pass late in the game, was sacked twice and threw an interception. Reserve quarterback Dalton Todd completed five passes and was picked off once.
“I thought we contained their speed real well,” said Hodges. “That was the key. We played well on defense.”
    Senior linebacker Dillan Finch was seemingly all over the field and got plenty of support from fellow seniors Caleb Bohannon, Codi Johnson, Clayton Rogers and Chris Young. Junior defensive backs Bailey Smith and Harrison Averitt led the secondary’s efforts.
    Bulloch (4-2 overall and 3-2 in region play) raced out to a 24-0 halftime lead and was up 31-0 early in the fourth quarter.
    Senior speedster Jaylen Evans scored two rushing touchdowns and caught a 33-yard scoring strike from junior quarterback Loy Waters to pace the Gator offense. He had 172 all-purpose yards (65 receiving, 61 rushing and 46 on returns).
    Evans had an exciting 19-yard run to the end zone in the second quarter as he reversed his field and cut back against the grain to get out of trouble and race around the Eagle defense.
    Moments later, he acrobatically hauled in a 33-yard pass from Waters to give BA its 24-0 halftime lead.
    “I thought we moved the ball better on offense,” said Hodges. “But we still have a long way to go.”
    The Gators opened the game with a no-huddle offense and literally flew down the field, going from their own 26-yard line to the SCA 29 in just four plays. But Sherwood’s defense played tough on the short field and held on a fourth-down situation.
    After three-plays-and-out, Bulloch forced the Eagles to punt but a high-snap sailed over Zach Kennedy’s head and was recovered by Young at the SCA 3.
    Again, the tough Eagle defense held and stalled the BA scoring drive. Sophomore kicker John Paul Padilla came on to salvage the situation, nailing a 25-yard field goal to give the Gators a 3-0 lead.
    The Eagles had three plays for negative 39 yards on their next possession and BA took over at the SCA 10. Young punched through a hole in the right side with 26 seconds left in the quarter for a 10-0 lead. He had 58 yards on 11 carries.
    Young set up the next BA score in the second quarter when he stepped in front of an Eagle receiver at the BA 25, intercepted the ball and raced 61 yards down to the SCA 19. Evans danced and spun his way into the end zone on the next play.
    In the second half, Sherwood mounted a drive on the arm of Todd but was turned away at midfield. After the Gators next drive fizzled, Todd completed three passes to march into BA territory. But the third pass was fumbled and Averitt scooped up the ball at the Gator 45.
    Waters connected with Evans twice and Averitt once, moving the ball to the SCA 13. On the next play, Evans raced around right end to give the Gators a 31-0 lead with 10:28 left in the game.
    Bulloch travels to Savannah next Friday to take on Bethesda in another GISA Region 1-AAA battle.