by D. Mark Mitchell
Last Friday night, the Opelika offense struggled as the Eufaula Tigers capitalized on a pair of first half turnovers and shut out the Bulldogs, 14-0.
Eufaula scored on back-to-back drives in the first quarter for the only two scores in the “first team” portion of the scrimmage.
After an incomplete screen pass from Opelika quarterback B.J. White was ruled a lateral and returned 83 yards to the Bulldog five-yard line, Eufaula quarterback Trey Johns plunged into the end zone three plays later on a quarterback sneak to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
After White was picked off on the next drive at the Eufaula 45-yard line, the Tigers took advantage quickly as fullback Xavier Woodson scored untouched on a 55-yard run one play later.
Besides the big run from Woodson, the Opelika defense allowed just 82 rushing yards and intercepted two passes, as cornerback Aldrecous Wilson picked off a pass down the Eufaula boundary in the second quarter and safety Lydell Vines stepped in front of a pass in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldog defense also forced three Eufaula fumbles in a game marred by turnovers as both teams combined for nine turnovers in three quarters.
Opelika’s speedy defense kept the Eufaula running game under control through the first three quarters, as the “D” unit flew to boundaries and made several stops that resulted in tackles for a loss.
The Bulldog defensive line, anchored by Aaron Reese, Martin Scott, Xavier Graham and Abram Williams, provided a plug at which slowed the Eufaula running game.
Linebacker Marquise Wright and safeties Malcolm Buggs and Brandon Taylor led the Bulldogs in tackles.
Opelika rotated quarterbacks throughout the first three quarters, with rising junior B.J. White and rising sophomore Matthew Christian splitting snaps.
White was intercepted four times on the evening and completed just four passes, while Christian was six-of-11 and completed passes to five different receivers, including a 35-yard completion down the Opelika sideline to wide receiver Marquise Fulton.
Calvin Bryant, who has been moved to running back, led the Bulldogs with 50 yards rushing on nine carries.
In the final quarter of the scrimmage, both teams emptied their benches as the Bulldogs scored three touchdowns in the final 12 minutes.
Running backs T.J. Griffin and Jarquavious Crawford scored all three touchdowns and the Bulldog defense did not allow the Tigers to cross midfield, as the reserves won the fourth quarter, 20-0.
Griffin scored on the first drive of the quarter, capping a eight-play drive, as the rising junior scored from six-yard line.
Crawford added the second touchdown on a one-yard run on the following drive. Griffin would race to the Opelika boundary and slip into the end zone past two Eufaula defenders to close out the scoring.