First Downs 10 15
Rushing 40-205 36-273
Passing Yards 11 70
Total Yards 216 343
C-A-I 1-5-0 4-6-0
Turnovers 0 0
Penalties 2-20 7-60
Rushing: BR: Garrett Riggs 13-62, Nick Pullen 5-56. BA: Matt Sheppard 16-147; Harrison Averitt 7-77.
Passing: BR: Samuel Joiner 1-4-0-0, 11. BA: Loy Waters 4-6-0-1, 70.
Receiving: BR: Justin Garrett 1-11. BA: Matthew Blitch 2-27.
Brent 3 0 0 7 — 10
BA 7 7 0 13 — 27
8:00 — Averitt (BA) 20 pass from Waters (JPadilla kick)
5:18 — Mimbs (Brent) 37 FG
6:24 — Sheppard (BA) 15 run (Padilla kick)
10:56 — Sheppard (BA) 70 run (Conversion Failed)
5:25 — Pullen Brent) 20 run (Mimbs kick)
1:38 — Sheppard (BA) 3 run (Padilla kick)
Bulloch Academy junior fullback Matt Sheppard rushed for 147 yards and scored three touchdowns to lead the Gators to a 27-10 win over Brentwood Friday night at Gator Alley.
Sheppard scored on runs of 3, 15 and 70 yards as Bulloch improved to 5-0 for the first time since the 2002 season.
“Some people grew up tonight,” BA head coach Ronnie Hodges said. “I am very proud and very pleased. We had our backs to the wall twice and came out of it. The defensive stand in the third quarter was great.”
The Eagles (3-2) came into the game with the intent of stopping BA leading rusher Harrison Averitt, and they held the Gator big-play man to just 77 yards on seven carries. But Bulloch head coach Ronnie Hodges and his staff anticipated the move and countered by mixing up the offense.
“They were keying on Harrison running the ball, and we were able to turn Matt loose and do some different things,” Hodges said.
Bulloch took the opening kickoff and marched 65 yards in eight plays for the game’s first score. Quarterback Loy Waters faked a pitch to wingback Bailey Smith, whirled around and floated a pass over the middle to Averitt for a 20-yard score.
“That first drive was beautiful,” Hodges said. “It is what we have been looking for for quite a while.’
But Brentwood came right back.
Speedster Garrett Riggs returned the ensuing kickoff 63 yards to the Gator 28. The BA defense held, but kicker Tory Mimbs drilled a 37-yard field goal at the 5:18 mark to cut the lead to 7-3.
The Gators improved their advantage to 14-3 midway through the second quarter.
After the Eagles punted on the second play, Bulloch went on another time-consuming drive. Waters completed two passes in the march but had a third, which was an electrifying 48-yard touchdown strike to Averitt, nullified by an offensive pass interference penalty.
Still, Sheppard pounded the ball into the end zone from 15 yards out on the 11th play of the drive. In the series, Smith had a 19-yard run, Waters connected with Will Rushing for a 23-yard gain and Matthew Blitch for a 13-yarder. The senior signal caller was 4-for-4 for 70 yards at the time.
Both defenses buckled down in the remainder of the half.
The Eagles came flying out of intermission and pushed the ball into Gator territory in a hurry. On the second play, Nick Pullen broke loose for a 40-yard run. Three plays later, Hunter Morrison added a 14-yarder and quarterback Samuel Joiner completed his only pass of the night to put Brentwood at the Gator 14.
The Eagles got down to the BA 7, but the Gator defense repelled the attack and took the ball over on downs after a 4th-and-5 pass was broken up by Smith.
“I thought our defensive linemen (Asa Johnson, Andrew Howell and Dylan Stuckey) won the battle up front,” Hodges said. “It really helped our linebackers out. You can’t overlook the play of Jarret Humphries though. He’s a stopper at his defensive end spot.”
Brentwood’s defense held firm as well on Bulloch’s next possession and had the Gators in a 3rd-and-28 situation at their own 30.
Waters put the ball in Sheppard’s belly on a routine fullback dive play, and the hard-running junior kept pounding away, found daylight and streaked through the Brentwood secondary, ripping off a career-long 70 yard run. The point-after attempt failed, and the Gators took a 20-3 lead at 10:56 of the fourth.
Although they had their wings clipped, the Eagles still continued to fly. As Joiner led them on a 10-play, 56-yard drive which ended when Riggs romped 20 yards to pay dirt. The ensuing extra point cut the Gator lead to 20-10 with 5:25 left.
A hard-to-handle kick off and back-to-back penalties put Bulloch at its own 3-yard line. Waters ran an option keeper and kept faking the pitch to Averitt, but he found a seam, turned it up and raced 97 yards for the score. But a holding penalty nullified the score and brought the ball back under the shadow of the BA goalpost.
“Penalties continue to haunt us,” Hodges said.
Sheppard’s tough running garnered two first downs and gave the Gators some breathing room. Then Averitt was able to get loose from his tormentors and raced 50 yards down to the Brentwood 3. Sheppard bulled in with 1:38 left for the final score.