ALBANY — In a titanic clash of the defensive giants, it was a simple misplaced foot which ultimately determined the outcome of the game in Bulloch Academy’s 2-0 upset over fourth-ranked Sherwood Christian Academy Friday night.
With no score late in the third quarter, Bulloch punter Lestonz Lewis landed the ball on the Sherwood eight-yard line. A penalty on first down put the Eagles at the four.
The Gator defense stuffed Sherwood on three straight plays and SCA punter Aaron Anthony was forced to drop back deep into his own end zone. A high snap forced him to jump for the ball. When he landed, he stepped on the end line. An eagle-eyed official called the out-of-bounds and signaled for the safety.
“That’s only the second time I have ever seen a football game won by a score of 2-0,” said BA head coach Clint Morgan. “The first was a state championship game in the early ‘90s when Tiftarea beat Southwest Georgia 2-0. Hey, it’s a great win though. Two is more than zero.”
Both squads pounded on each other throughout the contest as defense ruled the night in the important GISA Region 1-AAA contest.
“Our defense played lights out,” said Morgan. “I thought our defensive line really stood out. Jonathan Lumpkin (senior defensive tackle) played by far the best game of his career.”
Lumpkin was a wall throughout the game, had a key sack late in the second half and forced a fumble, which was recovered by defensive end Clayton Rogers.
The Gators (5-2 overall and 3-2 in region play) held Sherwood to just 26 total yards in the first half and 111 for the game. Bulloch held on three key fourth-down situations and had numerous third-down stops. SCA tailback Phillip English had 63 yards on 16 carries.
But the Eagles (3-3, 2-2) also had terrific defensive stands.
“Defensively, they controlled the line of scrimmage and forced us to try and run outside,” said Morgan.
The Eagles intercepted two Brandon Walker passes. One was a huge drive killer.
Bulloch began a drive from its own 26-yard line late in the first quarter. Twelve plays later, the Gators had a first-and-goal at the SCA 3. Walker tried to squeeze the ball to a receiver in the middle but it was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted in the end zone to stop the scoring threat with 7:21 left in the half.
SCA also prevented another Gator scoring attempt with seconds left in the first half.
After Rogers recovered a fumble at the SCA 38 with 43.5 left, Bulloch pounded the ball in the middle of the field and got as close to scoring a touchdown as time would allow. Senior kicker John Harden was called on to try a 25-yard field goal with 3.8 seconds left. But the Eagles batted the ball down as time expired for a scoreless game at halftime.
“We had a lot of key plays to keep drives alive but, on the flip side, we missed chances to with missed blocking assignments, penalties and bad decisions,” said Morgan. “Their team was too good for us to recover from as many misques as we had.”
The Eagles held on one fourth-down situation, forced several three-and-out series and recovered a fumble at their own 18-yard line.
Still, the BA offense rolled at times. Senior fullback Lestonz Lewis racked up 143 yards on 27 carries while Walker accounted for 63 on 10 carries and senior wingback Ellis Lane had 34 on six carries. Walker had the longest run of the night, a 38-yard option keeper on Bulloch’s first play of the second half. Lewis broke runs of 24, 18 and two of 10 while Lane added one of 11 and 10.