By Harrison Tarr
For the Opelika Observer

On a night which consisted of heavy rain, a 45 minute lightning delay and a slew of turnovers, the Beulah Bobcats walked away from their 2021 season opener with plenty of skills to improve upon following a 38-27 loss against the the Loachapoka Indians.

With kickoff taking place in the intermission of what progressed into a torrential downpour, the gold and black were slow to build any form of momentum on either side of the ball as Loachapoka posted 14 points in the first quarter of play.

As time progressed and each squad took turns turning the ball over, the Bobcats were able to find some success in the run game, punching in a touchdown on the ground prior to an eventual delay of game due to lightning in the area.

Beulah head coach Matthew Johnson said he was encouraged by the momentum brought forth by his running back duo of Demarion Foreman and Jacori Tarver; however, mentioned that their recurring fumbles were the team’s Achilles heel.

“We’ve got some hard fighting young kids,” Johnson said. “Our tailbacks are going to be really good, we just had a tough time holding onto the ball tonight.”

Following the delay in action, Loachapoka was able to find paydirt for a third time before heading into the locker room at the half. Johnson accredits the early deficit to the Bobcats struggles in the turnover category.

“We were moving the ball,” Johnson said. “You can blame it on the weather but they were playing in it also.”

The third quarter of play was fruitful for Johnson’s team, as Beulah found themselves within six heading into the final period of play; however, turnovers continued to plague the Bobcats even as the weather grew more favorable.

“You know we turned the ball over eight times,” Johnson said. “You’re probably not going to turn the ball over eight times.”

Beulah and Lochapoka combined for 15 turnovers in the contest; however, the Bobcat’s inability to hold onto the football eventually proved to be the team’s demise.

After going up on the Indians 27-26 late in the fourth quarter, a turnover on downs followed by yet another fumble forced the gold and black into a deficit the team was unable to climb out of.

Although admittedly frustrated with the team’s turnover struggles, Johnson sang songs of praise for his athletes, noting that senior quarterback Noah Higdon provided unmatched effort.

“Noah Higdon played his heart out,” Johnson said. “It just wasn’t his time.”

With the opening night loss behind them, Beulah must return to work on Monday and prepare to travel to Cleburne County next Friday. Johnson’s focus this week is what anyone would expect after turning the ball over eight times: ball security.

“We just gotta come back out Monday,” Johnson said. “We’re going to focus a lot on ball security.”

While maintaining control of the football will likely be the main focus of the week, Johnson notes that moving on from a week one loss will be equally as important.

“We always talk about persevering,” Johnson said. “We talk a lot about adversity and we fight through a lot over this past year so this is something that’s not new to us.”

The Bobcats will travel to Cleburne County on Friday Aug. 27 in hopes to bounce back from the early season defeat; however, the Tigers enter the contest seeking to build momentum following a 43-28 victory over Ohatchee on Friday night. Toe meets leather at 7 p.m. CT.