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Bulldogs dominate second half against Alabama Christian Academy in 27-8 win

LaFAYETTE — After a lethargic first half and an even worse start to the second half, the LaFayette Bulldogs found themselves on the short end of an 8-7 score versus the Alabama Christian Academy Eagles on homecoming night. Being behind seemed to anger the Bulldogs, and they roared back to outscore the visitors 20-0 over the remaining quarter and a half to send the alumni home with a 27-8 win. The win improves the team’s record to 4-3 on the year, 2-2 in 2A Region 4.

A fumble recovery by Jordan Walker had LaFayette in great position, at the ACA 38, to set up the lone Bulldog scoring drive of the first half. They had to overcome several penalties to make the end zone, doing on a beautiful pass to the corner of the end zone from Jaelin McCurdy to Walker. Markevious Tolbert’s PAT made the score 7-0 LaFayette with 3:25 left in the opening period.

For the most part, the game was an ugly affair with way too many penalties both ways. Infractions did more to stop the Bulldogs than the visitors did. Holding that 7-0 lead late in the first half, the Bulldogs overcame several penalties to have a late drive to penetrate the red zone. A nice run by McCurdy down the home sideline had them in good shape deep in ACA territory with a first-and-ten on the 15. An illegal procedure penalty set them back five yards and some incomplete passes brought up fourth and 15 on the 20.

With 36.6 seconds showing in the first half, the Bulldogs attempted a 37-yard field goal, which came up short and off to the left.

“I haven’t seen that in years,” said stadium announcer Ed Vines, “and I’ve been calling for years.”

Things went from bad to worse for the Bulldogs in the third quarter. An illegal participation penalty wiped out a promising drive, and a poor punt had the visiting Eagles in good starting field position for the first time in the game, with a first and ten on the LaFayette 48. Quarterback Reese Solar led them down the field for their only score, running for a couple of first downs and connecting on a long pass for first and goal on the two.

Solar scored on a run off the left side of the line to cut it to 7-6 with 6:51 left in the third quarter and then ran in the two-point conversion to give ACA a one-point lead.

Stunningly, it looked like the visitors might be able to steal one from heavily favored LaFayette on homecoming night.

That’s when anger and pride took over. In short, the Bulldogs refused to lose.

The Bulldogs regained the lead on a 58-yard drive that started late in the third people and culminated in the final stanza. On a beautifully executed play, McCurdy faked a handoff to Victor Tolbert going right and kept off the left side of the line. He simply wouldn’t be denied on the play, running 42 yards down the left sideline to put the Bulldogs back ahead. Markevious Tolbert’s PAT made it 14-8 with 11:51 left in the game.

After holding the Eagles on their next possession, the Bulldogs extended their lead, going 51 yards in two plays, getting a touchdown on a 45-yard thing of beauty by Victor Tolbert. The PAT was no good, but at the 9:32 mark, LaFayette’s lead of 20-8 looked very safe. LaFayette’s defense, led by Julius Bullard, JaQuavian Boston-Gaines and Dai’Quan Giddens was now in complete control.

When ACA went for it on fourth and five from their 25, the Bulldogs totally blew up the play, knocking the ball free on a toss sweep and forcing a four-yard loss. They took over on the 21 and got one more score, this one on a slant route pass from McCurdy to eighth-grade receiver Vinay Singh. Markevious Tolbert’s PAT extended the score to 27-8 with 3:00 left.

The Eagles couldn’t get close to the end zone in the game’s final minutes, and the homecoming night crowd filed out of the stadium to a row of tailgating tents where they could celebrate by watching some post-game fireworks.

LaFayette will have their final home game of the regular season next Friday when Central Coosa comes to town. The following week they will be at Horseshoe Bend. Then, it’s playoff season.