On the Mark
By D. Mark Mitchell
Opelika (2-1, R 2-0) defeated Eufaula (1-2, R 0-2) 28-21 last Friday night in Eufaula. The game ended around 10:45 p.m. due to an hour-long lightning delay in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs took a 6-0 lead after Eric Watts ran 10 yards for a score. Baker Rowton added the PAT, increasing the lead to 7-0 with 11 minutes in the second quarter. The game was stopped by game officials due to lightning during Eufalua’s ensuing possession. After waiting for almost an hour, the game was resumed in the second quarter. Shortly after play resumed, the Tigers tied the game, 7-7. EHS quarterback threw a 15-yard pass to Rah Rah Thomas in the endzone, where he snagged the ball with one hand for the score.
Opelika’s Eric Watts rushed 37 yards for his second TD with 6:13 left in the first half. Rowton added the PAT, 14-7 Bulldogs. Eufaula tied the game on the next possession when Jamarien Lewis raced 10 yards for a touchdown. The PAT made it 14-14.
The Tigers took a 21-14 lead with eight minutes left in the third quarter after an 8-yard rushing TD by Devin Fuller.
OHS tied the game, 21-21, with 7:17 left to play. QB Malik Finley bullied his way 2 yards for the score, and Rowton’s PAT made it 21-21. The Bulldog defense forced a punt on the ensuing possession. EHS used their quarterback as a punter also. The Tigers QB/Punter only dropped back seven to eight yards on punts through the night. This time, Trevon Moore blocked the punt and Jakai Stephens scooped the ball up and rumbled 25 yards for the game-winning score. Rowton made it 28-21.
Eufaula, aided by a personal foul penalty, marched inside Opelika’s 10-yard line late in the game. The Dog defense held the Tigers out of the endzone on four straight downs to preserve the win.
EHS gained 405 yards of offense to Opelika’s 342 yards. Tiger quarterback Jeff Horne was 21-43 for 246 yards. Eric Watts led Opelika with 215 rushing yards on 22 carries and 39 pass yards. Malik Finley threw for 89 yards. Taylor Love led the defense with 18 tackles, three for a loss. The two teams combined for 23 penalties, which was hard for fans to watch.
Next week, Opelika returns to Bulldog Stadium, hosting Carver (2-1, R 2-0) Friday at 7 p.m. The Wolverines opened with a 19-35 loss to Enterprise on the road, beat Valley in Fairfax 34-22 and beat Park Crossing 20-14 last week. Opelika leads the series with 15 wins and 3 losses. CHS’s last win was in 2012, 47-27.
This will be the Bulldogs’ third region game. Central Phenix City comes to Bulldog Stadium next Friday, Sept. 25. The next region game against Russell County, Oct. 2, might be a forfeit win. The Warriors have yet to play a football game due to COVID 19.
Friday’s Region game against Carver kicks off at 7 p.m. Fans can listen to the game on WKKR 97.7 Kicker fm and online at kickerfm.com. You can watch the live stream on the NFHS Network. The Live stream is free, compliments of the Orthopaedic Clinic. CEO Terry Rosenthal and doctors Adam Dooley, Raymond Godsil, Geoffrey Hancey, Frazier Jones, Ryan Palmer, Todd Michael Shiels and Trent Wilson should be thanked for choosing to sponsor the stream so fans can watch free.
The OHS 9th grade football team opened the season with a 20-8 loss in Alex City against Ben Russell. Opelika’s QB Roman Gagliano connected a 25-yard pass to Davien Jones for a TD. The two-point conversion was good. The game was tied 8-8. The Wildcats scored two more touchdowns to win by 12.
The team was scheduled to play Sept. 7 against Valley, however I have not received any information about the outcome. The Opelika Athletics website is not updated and has no information for the 2020 season.
D. Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State Director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.