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Gators sneak past Bethesda
Forest Spence (7), a Bulloch Academy senior, leaps after the football on an on-side kick recovery in the first quarter on Friday against Bethesda at Gator Alley. - photo by BRYAN BURKE/Special to the Herald

Box Score
                    BA    BHS

First Downs    8             3
Rushing          39-205    116
Passing Yards 67    71
Total Yards        272    187
C-A-I              2-4-1    3-9-0
Turnovers             3    1
Penalties             9-65    7-43

Individual Leaders
Rushing: BA: Averitt 9-89, Sheppard 11-71. BDS: Shidel Williams 16-106.
Passing:  BA: Waters 2-4-1-1, 67. BDS: Grayson 4-12-1-1, 118.
Receiving:  BA: Smith 2-67. BDS: Deloach 3-108.

BA    14    7    0    0 — 21
BHS    20    0    0    0 — 20

First Quarter
BDS — Jonathan Deloach 44 pass from David Grayson (run failed), 9:23
BA – Matt Sheppard 12 run (J.P. Padilla kick), 8:12
BA – Bailey Smith 30 pass from Loy Waters (Padilla kick), 6:44
BDS – Grayson 10 run (Corey Baker run), 1:30
BDS – Devonte Taylor 45 fumble recovery (run failed), :31.3
Second Quarter
BA – Harrison Averitt 45 run (Padilla kick), 3:32

    Whenever Bulloch Academy and Bethesda meet on the football field, anything can happen.
    And it usually does.
    What started out as a scoring fest turned into a slugfest Friday night at Gator Alley as Bulloch nipped Bethesda 21-20 in a game with as many twists and turns as a daytime soap opera.
    “It started off as a barn burner,” Gator head coach Ronnie Hodges said. “We tried to give it to them but they wouldn’t take it, so we decided to go ahead and win it.”
    The squads combined for 41 first-half points as Bulloch (2-0) took a 21-20 halftime lead. But both defenses were stone walls in the second half until late in a dramatic fourth quarter.
    With 1:47 remaining in the game, Bulloch punted the ball back to the Blazers, who had no timeouts and started at their own 15-yard line.
    Bethesda quarterback David Grayson heaved a rainbow downfield to Jonathan Deloach. Deloach, who had been battling BA’s Bailey Smith all night, got the best of the Gator senior on this occasion and hauled in a 55-yard bomb. A five-yard facemask penalty put the ball at the BA 17 with 1:27 left in the game.
    A run netted two yards and burned precious time off the clock. But the Gator defense didn’t have the right alignment on the field and called a timeout with 39.6 seconds left.
    On the next play, Grayson came out from under center and rolled to his right. The Blazer senior tripped and fell at the BA 26 with the clock under 25 seconds. On the next play, Grayson looked desperately for a receiver as he scrambled and eluded BA tacklers. But Matt Sheppard finally caught up with him, dragging him down at the BA 36 with less than 10 seconds left. Bethesda could get the next play off before the buzzer sounded .
    “That’s the kind of ballgame that you grow up in,” said Hodges. “I felt we made a lot of progress tonight.”
Bethesda (1-2) took  a 20-14 first-quarter lead.
    “After the first quarter, I thought it was going to be a long night,” Hodges said.
    Grayson connected with Deloach on a 44-yard touchdown on the second play of the game but the Gators answered back with a Sheppard 12-yard TD run and a 30-yard strike from quarterback Loy Waters to Smith.
    Grayson scored on a 19-yard broken play to knot the game at 14-14, and Devonte Taylor had a 45-yard fumble return with 31 seconds left.
    Bulloch took the lead late in the second quarter when Averitt galloped  45 yards for the score. J.P. Padilla’s PAT proved to be the point that gave the Gators the victory.
  The Gator defense held firm in the second half as a fourth-quarter interception by Averitt and several fourth-down defensive stands stopped the Blazers.
A 36-yard run by Sheppard on a second-and-29 situation with less than three minutes left to go in the game also enabled Bulloch run time off the clock.