Injured Bulldogs down Geneva County

Published 10:45 am Thursday, October 23, 2008

In spite of a streak of bad luck with several key players now injured, the Brantley Bulldogs still clinched the Class 1A Region 2 championship with a 42-13 win over the Geneva County Bulldogs Friday night. This makes Brantley the Class 1A Region 2 champs for seven years in a row, and the McKenzie Tigers, who were undefeated until last week’s visit from the Bulldogs, finished second in the region.

Things began to look as gloomy as the drizzling, rainy night for the Bulldogs as star running back Anthony Gulley suffered a bad high ankle sprain early in the first quarter. This was on top of Quarterback Chase Hall being out of the game with a broken bone in his hip, which he suffered during the first half against McKenzie. Brantley head coach David Lowery said that both players could possibly be out the rest of the season, but he wasn’t sure just yet. Wide receiver Tory Upshaw will also miss this Friday’s game due to injuries, but Lowery expected him to return to action the following week.

“We have about 7 or 8 of our starters who are injured and won’t be playing this week,” Lowery explained. “It’ll just be a time for several of the others to step up and play new positions.”

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In spite of the gloomy weather and the gloomy future outlook for some of his players, Coach Lowery’s Bulldogs did just that Friday night – they stepped up to the challenge and sent Geneva County home with a whopping 42-13 defeat. The Bulldogs were up 21-0 by halftime.

Quarterback Zack Johnson has stepped into his role, beginning full-time in the game against McKenzie. Johnson added a quarterback sneak for one Bulldog touchdown Friday night, and he later ran a two-point play in after another touchdown for the Bulldogs.

Stephen Walker highlighted the night with 14 carries for 148 yards for three touchdowns, and added a fourth TD on a 32-yard punt return.

Devontay Porter scored a touchdown on a 21-yard run, and kicker Britt Barnes was 4 for 5 for the night.

“This was not one of our better efforts,” Lowery said of last Friday night’s game. “I thought we were sloppy. We had five penalties on defense and four on offense. We had to shuffle the whole backfield around after Anthony (Gulley) got hurt; plus, we already had a new quarterback in.”

“We’re playing a lot of people who will have to step up and play new positions. It’s just going to take some time.”

Against Geneva County, the Bulldog defense was led by Austin Mitchell with 7 tackles, and Michael Walker had 6 tackles and one sack. Tory Upshaw had 4 tackles and 3 sacks, while Jared Hall had 3 tackles, one sack and one recovered fumble. Sophomore Cassius Tillis had one interception.

This week, Brantley will host 0-8 Kinston for their Homecoming, and then they will look to Daleville (7-2) for the final game of the regular season.

Brantley will host the first playoff game on Nov. 7.

Last week’s win improved Brantley’s record to 8-0 and extended their Region 2 win streak to 48 consecutive games.