Last-minute thriller for Brantley Bulldogs, fans

Published 5:44 pm Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Brantley Bulldogs have boasted a 9-0 season this year even with several key players sidelined during the last few games due to injuries. However, the Bulldogs had their hands full Friday night when the Daleville War Hawks came to town, leaving the fans on the edge of their seats until the final seconds of the game.

It was a big night for senior Stephen Walker as he ran for 101 yards on 16 carries with touchdowns of 5 and 16 yards, while making 10 tackles on defense. But the heart-stopping action came down to the final 7.3 seconds of the game with Brantley up 26-24. Daleville called a timeout, and Brantley called two timeouts back to back before Daleville made a final field goal attempt.

But it was Stephen Walker who blocked the 37-yard field goal attempt to seal the win for Brantley and send the 3A War Hawks home with a loss.

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Daleville wasted no time letting the Bulldogs know they had come to town to play Friday night as they put the first points on the board with a pass completion with 7:05 left in the first quarter. Brantley finally answered back after a long drive when Quarterback Zack Johnson completed a 20-yard pass to Stephen Walker who landed on the Brantley five yard line for a first down. Walker then carried the ball in on the next play to put Brantley’s first points on the board. Senior Britt Barnes’s two-point conversion pass to Tory Upshaw failed, and Daleville kept the lead 7-6 with 2:46 left in the first quarter.

With just 40 seconds off the clock in the beginning of the second quarter, Devontay Porter ran 85 yards down the field for the second Brantley TD of the night. Johnson’s pass attempt to Walker was incomplete as the Bulldogs attempted to put extra points between them and the War Hawks, bringing the score to 12-7.

Daleville kept possession of the ball for much of the second quarter, as the War Hawks’ quarterback Tevin Flowers kept gaining ground through the air. With less than a minute left in the first half, Daleville drove the ball down to the Brantley 33 yard line before being stopped by sophomore Cassius Tillis. The Bulldogs teamed up for a quarterback sack against Daleville on the next play, but it wasn’t enough to keep the War Hawks from scoring with just 13 seconds left on the clock. For the first time during the 2008 season, the Bulldogs headed into the locker room trailing their opponent as Daleville took the lead 14-12.

During the second half, Brantley kicked off to Daleville, who held on to the ball for the next five minutes as they continued to drive down the field. Cassius Tillis blocked a possible touchdown pass for Daleville causing the War Hawks to kick a 30-yard field goal, putting them at 17-12, with 7:32 left in the third quarter.

On Brantley’s next possession, Tory Upshaw received the punt and carried it to the 33-yard line for a first down. Devontay Porter carried the ball to the 37 yard line, and Derek Holley added five more yards on the next drive. A quarterback sneak by Zack Johnson as he followed senior Zach Ballard up the middle was enough for a Brantley first down. Johnson then threw a pass to Porter to Daleville’s 45-yard line for first and ten. Johnson then handed the ball off to Walker for some extra yardage and a second down. Derek Holley gained big yardage to bring the ball to the 13-yard line and a first down for Brantley. Stephen Walker ran the ball in for his second touchdown of the night, and then scored on a two-point conversion putting the Bulldogs in the lead 20-17 with 3:17 left in the third quarter.

Quarterback Zach Johnson sailed a beautiful pass to Tory Upshaw who scored on a 72-yard run during the first play of the fourth quarter. Barnes missed the PAT, but the Bulldogs were up 26-17.

However, Daleville answered right back on their next possession with a long run all the way down the field. The PAT was good, and Daleville was closing in on the Bulldogs, 26-24.

Daleville kept passing the ball, trying to gain big yardage through the air. But the battle continued back and forth until Daleville let time run down on the clock to the last 7.3 seconds of the game before calling a timeout. This had put them into good field goal position. Brantley then called two timeouts in a row, but Stephen Walker’s block of the Daleville field goal sealed the win for the Bulldogs, bringing them to a perfect 10-0 2008 season.

Brantley will host the first round of the AHSAA 1A Region 2 playoffs against Marengo (7-3) Friday night. Game time is 7 p.m. in Bulldog Stadium.