LYONS — The Bulloch Academy Gators brought a smash mouth attitude into Friday night's contest against the Crusaders of Robert Toombs Christian Academy and came away with a 39-14 victory in Lyons.
The Gators (3-1-1) dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, rushing for 259 yards while holding the Crusaders (3-2) to just 133. The Gators were led by Seniors Tyce Lovett and Jake Mock and a physical offensive line. Lovett rushed for 95 yards and scoring three touchdowns, while Mock rushed for 94 yards while scoring two touchdowns of his own.
The Gator defense was again led by Lovett who had several key tackles and Sophomore Jake Nelson who forced a turnover and was in on several tackles on the night. The Gator defensive line was stout all night with Seniors Garrett Williams and G.C. Kimbrell leading the way.
The game started as a defensive battle in the first quarter with no team able to put any points on the board. The Gators were finally able to punch in on their first possession of the second quarter as Lovett barreled in from one yard out to give the Gators a 7-0 lead. Lovett scored on again on the Gators next possession to give the Gators a 14-0 lead with 7:33 left to go in the 1st half. Lovett’s run was set up by a 15 yard run by Junior Brandon Merrill, and a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct call on the Crusaders.
The Crusaders finally got on the board after a Gator turnover as quarterback Toby Upshaw scored on a one yard run to make the score 14-7 Gators with 2:34 left in the half. Upshaw’s score was set up by a 42 yard circus catch by wide receiver Torrey Patterson to the Gator 7 yard line. The Gators stormed back down the field to set up a 27 yard field goal by Senior Sean O’Sullivan to give the Gators a 17-7 halftime lead.
The Crusaders received the ball to open the second half and were quickly stuffed by the Gator defense to force a three and out. A muffed snap by the Crusaders led to a block by Merrill and a recovery and return by Sophomore defensive tackle Nathan Rice to the Crusader 7 yard line. Mock took it in from two yards out to give the Gators a 24-7 lead with 9:03 left in the 3rd quarter. The Crusaders responded quickly with a 99 yard kick off return by Patterson to cut the score to 24-14.
That was all the scoring the Crusaders would have on the night. The Gators scored on their very next possession as Lovett scored from 5 yards out, while carrying several Crusaders with him into the end zone with 5:30 left in the 3rd quarter. Sophomore quarterback Don Aaron found Junior center Stone Thomas in the back of the end zone for a two point conversion to give the Gators a 32-14 lead. The Gators scored again on their next possession as Mock broke free for 46 yards to give the Gators a 39-14 lead with 2:32 still left in the 3rd quarter.
Gator Head Coach Terence Hennessy was able to clear his bench at that point allowing his young guys the opportunity to play. The young Gators were able to keep the Crusaders out of the end zone throughout the 4th quarter forcing two turnovers of their own while still facing the Crusaders first team offense. Freshman Riley Joyce recovered a fumble inside the Gator 10 yard line, and later forced fumble on the last play of the game which was recovered by Freshman Isaiah Stubbs.
“I loved how we dominated on both sides of the ball tonight,” said Hennessy. “Our guys played like they had a chip on their shoulder the whole game, and I love that. Even our young guys kept them out the end zone. If we play like that every time, then we’ll always have a chance.”
The Gators hope to keep their winning streak alive as they head to Waynesboro next Friday night to take on the Spartans of Edmund Burke Academy.