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Bulloch set for 1st road game

Bulloch Academy (2-0) at Robert Toombs (2-1)
7:30 p.m., 850 AM

    A hard-fought battle against a veteran squad awaits the Bulloch Academy Gators when they travel to Lyons to take on cross-county rival Robert Toombs Christian Academy tonight.
    “They only graduated about two or three players off of a team that lost last year’s state championship game in the fourth quarter by only four points,” said BA head coach Ronnie Hodges. “They’ve also picked up some quality kids this year as well. Coach Tommy Smith has done a great job of putting together a fine team that, I think, will win the GISA Class A state championship this year. They’ve got everything it takes.”
    Even though Bulloch whipped the Crusaders 44-18 last season, RTCA had an 18-14 lead at halftime.
      “I think they hit their stride after their game with us,” said Hodges.
    After the loss, the Crusaders got back on their horses and proceeded to ransack the Class A ranks en route to the state semi-finalist trophy. They lost the state title game 34-30 to Frederica Academy.
    This season, Robert Toombs (2-1) has blanked John Hancock 29-0 and blasted David Emanuel 51-6. Sandwiched between the victories was a hard-fought 26-13 loss to Pinewood.
    “I saw the game against Pinewood in person and have watched the other two on tape,” said Hodges. “Robert Toombs is very physical and has good speed. I saw multiple offensive formations, from the shotgun and three receivers to double tight ends and a Power I. They are very good at any formation because of their speed.”
    Players to watch, according to Hodges, are quarterbacks Herron Gardner and Brent Anderson, running backs Rico Rogers and Marion Dingle and receivers Tanner Guy and Garrett Gray.
    “I feel like it will be a real battle,” said Hodges. “We are very similar as far as personnel.”
    The Gators (2-0) are also coming off big wins and will receive their first big test of the season. Bulloch trounced St. Andrews 45-0 in the opening week of the season and took advantage of Bethesda mistakes to take a 34-0 victory in a lightning-shortened game last week.
    In the games, Bulloch has amassed 569 yards on offense (458 rushing, 111 passing) while limiting opponents to just 205 total yards.
    Junior quarterback Will Rushing leads the charge on offense with 108 yards and one score. Senior fullback Zach Sapp has 106 yards and two TDs and senior wingback Matt Sheppard has 104 yards and two scores. Rushing is also 5-of-11 in the passing department for 111 yards and one TD.
    Senior linebacker Eddie Howard is the defensive leader (seven individual tackles and three assists) followed by sophomore defensive end Hunter Perry (six, four), junior defensive tackle Dylan Stuckey (six, three), senior linebacker Hobby Mills (five, four) and senior defensive end Drew Bohlke (five, three).
    Senior defensive back Matt Sheppard set a new school record last week with a 95-yard interception return, which was one of five pick-offs that the Gators had against Bethesda.
    Turnovers played a major part in Bulloch’s victory over the Blazers and Hodges hopes that mistakes won’t plague his Gators’ this Friday night against Robert Toombs.
    “We have to limit mistakes and keep penalties to a minimum,” he said. “Special teams will play a big part in the game. A good punt or kickoff and the good coverage means the difference in field position and they will be very important.”