By Morgan Bryce
A prolific rushing attack led by St. James fullback Anthony Amerson and lack of overall execution doomed Beulah to a 49-20 loss to the Trojans Friday night at Bobcat Stadium.
“We just didn’t play well enough to win. St. James is a quality opponent, and we just turned the ball over and made a lot of mistakes,” said Beulah Coach Cody Flournoy. “We knew (Amerson) was tough and going to get his yards, and we’d just have to match them play-for-play, but we just couldn’t get it done.”
Operating out of a flexbone package for most of the night, St. James employed a balanced attack on its first drive to march down the field, which was capped off with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Collin Duncan to tight end Michael Shalayda.
On the Bobcats’ second drive of the game, a low snap was mishandled by Lonzie Portis and recovered by Trojan linebacker Will Whiddon at the Beulah 39-yard line. Two big runs from Amerson advanced the ball to the Beulah 9-yard line, where Duncan would take a quarterback sneak and dart through the heart of the Bobcat defense for a score and 14-0 advantage.
Portis ignited the Beulah offense with a spectacular 44-yard dash to flip the field on the ensuing drive. First-string running back Chris Person strung together several first-down rushes before Caden Dowdell made his presence and return known to fans, blowing through Trojan defenders on a nine-yard TD blast to cut their lead in half.
But, St. James had an answer. After briefly mishandling the ball, Amerson worked his magic and took the kickoff back the distance, a 93-yard return for a score to recapture their two TD advantage.
Person anchored Beulah’s next drive with several productive carries before Dowdell outsprinted defenders on a 37-yard TD run to trim the St. James lead to seven.
Both offenses cooled for the rest of the quarter, as Beulah and St. James exchanged punts. The Trojans took their 21-14 lead into the half.
A fumble on Beulah’s second drive in the third quarter provided St. James with great field position. Taking an end around around the right side of his offensive line, fullback/slotback Alex Whisenhunt sped to a 25-yard score to give his Trojans a 28-14 lead.
Emotions ran high late in the third quarter as Beulah middle linebacker Justin Hancock was ejected from the game, drawing protests from the Bobcats coaching staff that led to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at a crucial point in the contest.
St. James took advantage, as Duncan hooked up with Whisenhunt for 30-yard gain. Another long Amerson run placed the Trojans inside the Bobcat 1-yard line, setting up an easy one-yard sneak for Duncan, giving the Trojans a three-score lead.
Another Whisenhunt rushing TD put the Trojans up 42-14 late in the fourth quarter, dousing any hopes of a miracle comeback from the Bobcats.
Dowdell scored his third TD of the night with 5:22 left in the game, powering in from two yards out to cut the Trojan lead to 42-20. Austin Billingsley’s ensuing extra-point was blocked.
Amerson scored the final TD of the night on a 6-yard outside run with fewer than two minutes remaining in the game.
Beulah finished with 252 yards of total offense, with 196 of that total coming on the ground. Person finished with 85 yards on 13 carries, Dowdell rushed five times for 52 yards and all three Beulah scores and Portis added 34 yards on 12 attempts.
Portis was 6-of-11 passing for 56 yards, completing passes to four different Beulah receivers.
Defensively, Dowdell looked solid in his first outing since Montgomery Academy Sept. 7, leading all Bobcat defenders with 11 tackles. Billy Sykes, L.C. Moore and Justin Hancock finished with 9, 8 and 7 tackles each, respectively.
Isaiah Glidewell maintained a 31 yards-per-punt avg. and Billingsley finished 2-of-3 on extra points.
With the loss, Beulah falls to 5-2 overall, 3-2 in region play, and is in the midst of a two-game losing streak. They will travel to Dadeville (2-6 overall, 1-4 in region play) for another pivotal region matchup that could make or break the Bobcats’ chances of making the playoffs.
“We got a chance to get into the playoffs with the two region games that we have left, but we gotta win one of them. We knew the backend of our schedule was going to be tougher going into this season,” Flournoy said. “Dadeville dropped from 4A last year to 3A this year, and that’s a good football team. We’re going to have to play well to win.”
Kickoff v. Dadeville is set for 7 p.m. Tiger Stadium is on the Dadeville campus, which is located at 227 Weldon St.