For the Opelika Observer
When the Loachapoka Indians traveled to Notasulga, Alabama, on Friday night, the atmosphere inside of Blue Devil Stadium could only be described as electric.
The red and black entered the contest 4-1, hungry to place a blemish on the perfect 5-0 record of their region rivals but eventually found themselves on the losing end of a 32-12 clash.
From the very beginning of the game, it became apparent to any spectator that these two squads were playing for much more than a spot in the class 1A region race. The pair of cross-town rivals were playing for pride.
After pooch kicking the opening kickoff, the Indian defense took the field with a clear goal in mind: shutting down Notasulga sophomore quarterback Elijah Rogers and the Blue Devil offense. Loachapoka head coach Frederick Newton’s squad forced its opponents into a 3-and-out on the opening possession and initiated what developed into a first-half defensive battle.
The two squads continued to trade possessions throughout the duration of the first quarter with the Blue Devils finally breaking the deadlock nearly five minutes into the second period of play via a touchdown pass to sophomore running back Tyrese McCullough in the back of the endzone.
Despite very little life shown from the Indian offense in the early going, it took the red and black just five minutes of game time to respond with a touchdown of its own when senior running back Nicholas Farrow turned the corner behind his lead blocker and found paydirt.
Newton was proud of his team’s ability to find the endzone in the first half but remained critical of the Indians’ inability to maintain any form of momentum.
“It was good,” Newton said of his team’s performance after the game. “Everybody’s got to play four quarters, but we didn’t play four quarters. We played two.”
The Indians headed to the locker rooms in a 6-6 deadlock and were the first on the board in the second half when junior wide out Jacorious Hart hauled in a 50-50 ball off the arm of junior quarterback Ja’Kuan Palmer in the back of the endzone.
From that point forward, the remainder of the contest belonged to the Notasulga offense. The Blue Devils answered Hart’s reception with an impressive 50-yard touchdown reception. The blue and white never looked back.
In the final 18 minutes of play, McCullough and company posted an additional three unanswered touchdowns, pushing the Blue Devil lead to 20, where it eventually stood when the final whistle blew to signal the end of regulation.
Newton was visibly frustrated with his squad’s lack of life in the latter portion of the contest.
“Six-six going in, but we came and stumbled in the last two quarters,” Newton said. “Just didn’t come out playing football. We didn’t come out relaxed, we didn’t hit them in the mouth like we did in the first half.”
With the rivalry loss now behind them, the plan for Loachapoka going forward is simple.
“We evaluate our injuries, get our guys back and go out and play football,” Newton said.
The Indians will spend this week preparing for Friday’s home contest against the Red Devils of Verbena. Kickoff in Loachapoka is set for 7 p.m. CST.