By D. Mark Mitchell
Opelika (8-1, R: 5-0) defeated Wetumpka (7-2, R: 3-2) 38-37 last Friday night in a thriller. The win gave the Bulldogs their third straight Region championship. The last times OHS won three straight region titles were in 2005, 2006 and 2007 under Coach Spence McCracken.
Those who paid the $7 admission price got their money’s worth!
The Indians jumped out to a 14-0 lead after their first two possessions. The Dawgs roared back, scoring 17 straight points in a span of four minutes, all this action occurring in the first quarter. Both teams added touchdowns in the second quarter and Opelika held a 24-21 lead at intermission.
Wetumpka tied the game early in the third quarter, 24-24, after Phillip Loza kicked a 37-yard field goal. The score was set up by Robert Laprade’s interception on the Bulldogs’ opening drive of the third quarter.
Next the Indians took a 31-24 lead with 6:19 left in the quarter after a 32-yard TD run. Opelika used just 32 seconds to tie the game. Jaleel Heard caught a pass from John David Worth and sprinted 77 yards for a TD.
Austen Blackmon made the extra point to make it 31-31.
The Indians answered with a 86-yard kickoff return for a TD. They missed the PAT, making the score 37-31, Wetumpka.
Opelika answered in less than two minutes, as Weldrin Ford scored his third rushing TD, capping off an 80-yard drive to tie the game at 37-37. Senior placekicker Austen Blackmon booted the game winning extra point right down the middle to make it 38-37.
The Dawg defense made a huge stand, helped by an illegal shift penalty on Wetumpka, stopping the Indians on fourth down to secure the win.
The offense was led by Weldrin Ford’s 160 rushing yards on 16 carries, Quarterback John David Worth was 12 of 22 for 269 yards and Jaleel Heard caught six passes for 164 of those yards.
Coach Brian Blackmon was thrilled with his team’s win. “What a game! I am thrilled for our guys, we fell behind and did not panic. We kept playing and found a way to win. Wow! It was fun,” said Blackmon on his post game radio show. “Give Wetumpka credit! It was a back and forth game. Neither team deserved to lose. I am just proud we won.”
The Dawgs travel to Pelham (1-8) this Friday for their last regular season game. The two teams played each other one time before, in 2012, when the Bulldogs won 49-23 in the first round of the AHSAA 6A playoffs.
The Bulldogs will be looking to win their ninth game of the season.
OHS will have the following week off before hosting Paul Bryant High School of Tuscaloosa in the first round of the 2016 6A playoffs.
OPELIKA/PELHAM ON WKKR 97.7
You can listen to the Opelika vs.Pelham game on WKKR 97.7 KICKER FM. The Coach Brian Blackmon Pregame Show starts at 6:30, with kickoff set for 7 p.m.
The Lady Bulldog volleyball team earned two wins last week, beating Beauregard and Beulah by identical 2-0 scores.
OHS played in the Area tournament last night. The results were not available at press time.
OHS Coach Robin Roberts led the team to 15 wins in the regular season.
The girls and boys cross country teams will participate in their last regular season meet this Saturday in the Auburn High School Invitational Meet.
OHS senior Ben Garner continues to hold the number 1 ranking in Alabama. Garner is the favorite to win the State Championship.
OMS EIGHTH GRADE DEFEATS WETUMPKA
The OMS eighth grade team remained undefeated after beating Wetumpka 56-30. The offense line of Dillon Phillips, Ty Robinson, Kris Epperson, Garrett Fitzwater, and John Trask led the team’s attack.
Quarterback Malik Finley threw two passing TDs, to Trevon Moore, and to Eric Watts. Watts also had four rushing TDs and three two-point conversions. Dehvin Wilson added a rushing TD and Jamon Thomas recovered a fumble for a score.
The defense was led by Trevon Moore, Daylen Torbert and Dino Martin. Kicker Baker Rowten had a huge night, making two of four PATs and keeping the Indians in poor field position with his kicks.
OMS-eighth grade (7-0) will host Auburn Thursday at Bulldog Stadium. Kickoff will be 30 minutes after the conclusion of the seventh grade game which starts at 4:30 p.m.
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.