MILLEDGEVILLE - John Milledge used its size to shove around Bulloch Academy in the opening round of the GISA Class AAA state playoffs at Ted S. Smith Stadium here Friday night.
Ducking and dodging behind a monsterous offensive line, senior tailback Cam O'Neal rushed for 287 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries to lead the Trojans to a 31-6 victory. The 1,000-yard rusher had scoring runs of 14 and one yard and broke dashes of 69, 47, 17, 15 and 14 yards. The Trojans ran the ball 52 times in the dominating performance.
JMA held Bulloch to just 61 rushing yards as they won the battle of the line of scrimmage by using fresh players on both the offensive and defensive lines to wear down the injury-laden Gators, who end the season at 8-4.
The home squad scored on its first three possessions to grind out a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
JMA needed just six plays on its opening series to take a 7-0 lead with 9:49 left. O'Neal ran the ball six straight times, running behind 270-pound lineman-turned-fullback Coleman Jones. Cole Wilson took the next handoff and broke a 24-yarder for the opening score.
On their next possession, the Trojans used six more plays for the 14-0 advantage. Again, the workhorse ran the ball six times and punched in a one-yard score at the 5:01 mark.
The Gators worked harder on their second possession as fullback Tyce Lovett tried to crack the JMA line. But senior quarterback Lanier Olliff was sacked by JMA's Harrison Bryant and coughed up the ball at the Gator 28. Two plays later, O'Neal rambled 14 yards for a 21-0 lead with 1:25 left.
Bulloch prevented another score midway through the second quarter by recovering an O'Neal fumble at the BA 11. Olliff then connected with tight end Hunter Perry on successive short routes to march the ball down the field. But the drive stalled at the JMA 34 and the Gators went to the locker room to regroup and come back with another strategy.
In the third, the Gators switched almost entirely to the passing game and had success working out of the shotgun. Olliff connected on quick hitters to Perry, Drew Bohlke and Jarves Williams. On the night, Olliff was 12-for-32 for 187 yards. He connected with Bohlke six times (122) and Perry five times (42).
The Trojans upped the advantage to 24-0 when kicker Michael Martino booted a 28-yard field goal with 7:25 left in the quarter.
On the next possession, Bulloch got on the board on two fantastic plays. The first was a 64-yard bomb to Bohlke, who made a great bobbling catch at the JMA 11. Two plays later, a scrambling Olliff went up and over a JMA defender from two yards out for the score at the 6:43 mark. The two-point conversion failed.
Bulloch's defense prevented another Trojan score late in the quarter when O'Neal, who had just burned the Gators for a 41-yard jaunt, coughed up the ball and defensive lineman Trevor Mason recovered at the BA 4.
Olliff got the Gators out of the hole with some scrambles and pass completions. But JMA stripped the ball from Bohlke after a 19-yard completion to take possession and march down for the final score of the night, a 10-yard TD pass from quarterback Trevor Evans to Bryant early in the fourth quarter.
BA 0 0 6 0 - 6
JMA 21 0 3 7 - 31
JMA_Wilson 24 run (Martino kick), 9:49
JMA_O'Neal 1 run (Martino kick), 5:01
JMA_O'Neal 14 run (Martino kick), 1:25
JMA_Martino 28 FG, 7:25
BA_Olliff 11 run (pass failed), 6:43
JMA_Bryant 10 pass from Evans (Martino kick), 11:32
First downs 17 18
Total Yards 248 387
Rushes-Yards 23-61 52-377
Passing 187 10
Comp-Att-Int 12-32-2 1-5-0
Turnovers 4 2
Penalties-Yards 6-55 7-85
RUSHING_BA: Olliff 13-40, Lovett 5-18; JMA: O'Neal 37-287
Passing_BA: Olliff 12-32-2-0, 187; JMA: Evans 1-5-0-0, 10
Receiving_BA: Bohlke 6-122, Perry 5-42; JMA: Bryant 1-10