Special to the
Opelika High School’s freshman football team traveled to Alexander City to battle the Benjamin Russell Wildcats in their season opener. The Wildcats won the coin toss and elected to kick, allowing the Bulldogs to go on offense first.
The Bulldogs drew first blood as quarterback Jackson Bates fired a 40-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Chuck Gagliano.Gagliano kicked the extra point to give Opelika a 7-0 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, lightning reared its ugly head, necessitating a 30-minute delay before wthe game resumed in the first quarter, which remained a defensive battle. As the second quarter began, the stifling Opelika defense forced another Benjamin Russell punt. Jarrell Stinson fielded it and returned the punt 65 yards for a Bulldog score. Gagliano’s second extra point was true, giving Opelika a 14-0 lead that lasted until halftime.
Benjamin Russell received the second half kickoff and returned it the Opelika 25-yard line. Busted coverage was the culprit as kicker Gagliano saved the Bulldogs from a Wildcat score.
A Bulldog penalty gave the Wildcats the ball at the Opelika nine-yard line. Four plays later, the Wildcats found pay dirt on a desperation fourth-down play. The Wildcats went for two but were stymied by a pack of Bulldogs leaving the score at 14-6 Opelika.
Starting the fourth quarter, the defense bent but did not break, and the two offenses struggled to make first downs. Benjamin Russell then muffed a Jackson Bates punt, giving the Bulldogs a short field. Stinson broke into the end zone for the Bulldogs third TD of the night. Gagliano kicked the extra point giving the Dawgs a 21-6 lead. Scoring ended late in the fourth quarter when defensive tackle Walter Harris scooped and scored on a bad snap by the Wildcats. Gagliano’s extra point was good and the Bulldogs lead was extended to 28-6.
With the win, the Bulldogs moved to 1-0 on the season and will travel to Eufaula Sept. 17 to battle the EufauTigers.
Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m.