It was supposed to be the start of football season, but it looked more like a track meet.
Bulloch Academy racked up 428 yards on the ground, including seven scoring plays of 30 yards or more as the Gators rolled to a 59-22 opening night victory over David Emanuel Academy in the “First Showdown in Town” Thursday at Gator Alley.
Ellis Lane and Lestonz Lewis did the brunt of the damage for Bulloch (1-0), combining for 362 yards on just 14 carries for four touchdowns on the night.
“It was great,” said Lewis. “Everybody was doing their assignments and getting the job done. It seemed like I had a hole every time I touched the ball and was able to break it outside.”
The Gators wasted no time getting the scoring started as they marched 67 yards on their opening drive.
Three runs quickly moved the ball into Eagle territory before senior quarterback Brandon Walker found room on the left side and raced past the DEA (0-1) defenders for a 46 yard touchdown to put the Gators ahead.
The Bulloch defense was just as impressive in their first series as newcomer Morris Prince dove on a fumble on the Eagles’ second offensive play to give the ball right back to the Gators.
Just two plays were needed for Walker to find Lane wide open in the end zone for a 10 yard touchdown strike and a 13-0 lead. The quick strike was just a hint of the oncoming fireworks for the Gators.
“We really only run about five plays on offense,” said BA coach Clint Morgan. “It’s good to see that we’re close to perfecting those plays. I would have liked to see us sustain some drives, but seeing the big plays is nice too.”
An incredible leaping interception by sophomore Harrison Averitt set up the third Bulloch score. Averitt pulled down a Chet Ellison pass attempt while doing a high-wire act on the sideline and Prince capitalized on the next play with a 38 yard touchdown scamper.
Jacob Wheeler — who led the Eagles with 155 yards on 13 carries — gave DEA a sliver of hope with a 76 yard run on the next possession, but Lane and Lewis took over from there.
Lane took a pair of outside pitches for touchdowns of 45 and 59 yards, and Lewis used a combination of power and speed to burst through the middle for touchdowns of 68 and 30 yards to give Bulloch a 48-8 lead at the half.
“We thought that we could bust some big plays on them,” said Lane. “I got a couple of pitches and everyone did a great job of sealing the corner and blocking downfield.”
With the mercy clock in motion in the second half, the Eagle offense was content simply to hold onto the ball and keep the potent Gator offense on the sideline.
DEA received the half’s opening kickoff and methodically marched down the field while chewing up clock. The drive spanned 9:33 and was capped by a six yard Wheeler touchdown run, but only served to win back a bit of pride for the Eagles.
Touchdowns by Prince (15 yard run) and Courtney Reese (78 yard kickoff return) finished off Bulloch’s scoring for the night.
“Overall, I’m happy with tonight,” said Morgan. “It’s good to get the first win out of the gate. It’s a long season, but it won’t be long before we have the triple-A competition rolling in. We’ll look to see where we can improve and then we’ll be ready to play next week.”
The Gators remain at home next week as they take on former Region 2-IAA rival Robert Toombs.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.