By D. Mark Mitchell
Opelika (4-0 overall, 2-0 in region play) defeated Wetumpka 33-32 in a thriller last Friday night at Bulldog Stadium. The win leaves the Bulldogs in great position to win another region title and host a first-round playoff game.
The Bulldogs scored the first touchdown with 10:54 left in the first quarter after Brody Davis threw a 45-yard pass to Marien Warner, with Baker Rowton added the extra-point try.
Wetumpka answered with a score on a two-yard run by Terrance Thomas with 4:41 left in first quarter but failed to add the two-point conversion, trailing 7-6.
Erik Watts scored the first of his two scores on a five-yard run. Rowton added the PAT making the score, 14-6 Opelika. The Indians answered with quarterback Brandon Bowman threw a 30-yard TD pass to Jaleel Johnson with seven minutes left in the first half, converting the extra-point try on this score to trail 14-13.
Brody Davis connected on a 24-yard TD pass to Omar Holloway for a touchdown. Rowton added his third PAT, giving the Bulldogs a 21-13 lead.
Watts opened the second half with a 69-yard run for a touchdown with 22 seconds left in the third quarter. Opelika’s extra-point try was no good and led 27-13.
The Indians stormed back, with Thomas scoring two TDs on runs of 70 and six yards in the third quarter. The score was 27-26 heading the fourth quarter.
That momentum continued for Wetumpka. The Indians took the lead with fewer than nine minutes in the game. Tyquan Rawls sprinted 82 yards for a score, but the point-after try was no good, leaving Wetumpka with a five-point lead, 32-27.
Opelika sealed the win with a 13-play, 80-yard scoring drive with 2:55 left in the game. Davis connected with Warner for the game-winning, five-yard TD pass. Opelika’s defense held Wetumpka on four consectuvie downs to seal the 33-32 win.
The two teams combined for 65 points and a more than 1,000 yards of offense. Opelika was led by Watts’ 243 yards on 28 carries and two TDs and Davis’s 20-of-32 passing for 236 yards and three TDs.
OPELIKA AT CENTRAL
The Bulldogs travel to Phenix City Friday night for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Garrett-Harrison Stadium on Wayne Trawick Field to play Central. The Red Devils, Class 7A’s defending champions, are 3-1 overall. Central lost their opener 17-14 to Hoover in the AHSAA Kickoff Classic in Montgomery. Central is currently in the middle of a three-game win streak, beating Cedar Grove (Georgia) 24-20, Smiths Station 44-0 and Prattville 45-20 last Friday.
Central and Opelika have played 76 games, with the Red Devils leading the series 44-32 overall, including three in a row, four out of the last five and have outscored Opelika 74-19 in the last two games.
The Red Devils are coached by Jamey Dubose, who is 57-10 overall in six years and 128-39 overall. Central has several players that have committed to D1 and D2, the team has size and speed. This is the best football team Opelika will play this season.
The Bulldogs must play a perfect game in order to have a chance to win in the fourth quarter. The two teams have speed but the edge goes to Central.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Phenix City. Fans can purchase tickets online at gofan.co or buy at the ticket office at Garrett-Harrison Stadium.
Fans can listen to the game on 97.7 Kicker FM, online at kickerfm.com or watching the stream online at nfhs.com.
PRAYER STOPPED AT BULLDOG STADIUM
Last week, Opelika City Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark D. Neighbors released a statement saying OCS will stop praying over the PA system prior to kickoff of Opelika High School football games. OCS received a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation based in Madison, Wisconsin. The letter stated a parent with a child in the OCS system felt alienated because of the explicitly Christian nature of the prayer.
“We recognize that the United States of America is a nation of laws and we will abide by the current law,” Neighbors said in his statement.
There was no mention of fighting for the right to pray. A moment of silence will replace the prayer. The OHS student body prayed Friday’s moment of silence.
Several area pastors and Mayor Gary Fuller are discussing a way to show support for those who support praying prior to Opelika football games. In the future, the group may lead a prayer from the stands.
The OHS freshman football team (2-0) beat Eufaula 14-8 Monday night at Bulldog Stadium.
Eufaula opened the game with a offensive drive inside the 18-yard line before the Bulldogs held the Tigers four consecutive plays to end the scoring threat.
Opelika drove 63 yards before turning the ball over on downs inside the 22-yard line.
After a sack, Qualik Harry intercepted a pass, giving Opelika the ball back deep in Eufaula territory.
Kaden Cooper scored his first of two TDs on a three-yard run and George Meyers kicked the PAT, giving the Opelika freshman a 7-0 lead.
Cooper scored his second touchdown in the third quarter on a 31-yard run.
Meyers added his second PAT to give the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead.
Eufaula’s only score came in the fourth quarter after an intercepting an Opelika pass.
The freshman Tigers drove 58-yards for a TD and converted the two- point try to make it 14-8.
Eufaula’s tried an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff but Opelika was able maintain possession and run out the clock.
The Freshman Bulldogs improved to 2-0 amd will travel to LaGrange Monday for a 5:30 p.m. kickoff.
D. Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State Director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.