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Bulldogs down Marengo County

The Brantley Bulldogs will head to the second round of the AHSAA Class 1A Region 2 playoffs next week after defeating the Marengo County Panthers Friday night 28-14.

The Bulldogs’ senior running back Anthony Gulley was back in action after being sidelined with a high ankle sprain for the last couple of weeks, and it showed as Gulley put the first points on the board for the night during the first quarter.

Brantley won the toss and chose to kick off to the Panthers as James Dumas caught the ball and returned it to the Panther 14 yard line. Senior Ontarrio Woods had a big night of carries; however, he couldn’t gain much yardage during the Panther’s first possession, and Marengo punted the ball to the Panther 47 yard line as Brantley took possession of the ball.

That’s when running back Devontay Porter ran the ball 19 yards for a first down to start the first Bulldog scoring drive. Porter added two more yards before Quarterback Zach Johnson rambled down to the 26 yard line on the third play of the possession. Four plays later, Anthony Gulley made a 7-yard run to put the first points on the board. Kicker Britt Barnes split the uprights, and Brantley took a 7-0 lead with 6:15 left in the first quarter.

On Marengo’s next possession, they immediately gave it back to the Bulldogs as Brantley’s Tory Upshaw intercepted Quarterback James Bennett’s pass. Gulley carried the ball again on the next play but was stopped by Larrance Pritchett. Two plays later, Gulley scores another Bulldog TD on a 28-yard run. Barnes’ PAT was good, and the Bulldogs pulled ahead 14-0 with 5:07 left in the first quarter.

The Panthers couldn’t seem to gain any headway on their next possession and soon punted the ball back to the Bulldogs. This time, junior Derek Holley gained yardage for Brantley, as did Devontay Porter. But it was senior Stephen Walker, who was named the “Army Iron Man” for the week of Oct. 31, who broke away and dashed down the field 67 yards for the third Bulldog touchdown of the night. Again, Barnes’ PAT was good, and Brantley was enjoying a comfortable 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Marengo County couldn’t seem to get any momentum going as the Bulldogs held possession of the ball for most of the second quarter, until Zach Johnson’s pass was picked off by the Panthers’ Dominique King who took it in to the 11 yard line for a first and 10 for Marengo County with 4:12 left in the second quarter.

Senior Donte Packer picked up some yardage on the next play, followed by Quarterback James Bennett’s beautiful pass to King who landed on the 43 yard line.

Ontarrio Woods then ran the ball 48 yards before being stopped by Devontay Porter just inside the 9 yard line. Three plays later, Quintin Watkins carried the ball in for the Panthers’ first goal of the night. Michael Watkins ran it in on a two-point conversion, and the Panthers ended the first half down 21-8 to the Bulldogs.

The Panthers kicked off to the Bulldogs at the beginning of the second half, but the Bulldogs were unsuccessful on their first possession to add any points to the board.

But this half saw a different Panther team come out on the field as the Bulldogs couldn’t seem to make any headway until the very end of the third quarter, when Anthony Gulley scored his third touchdown of the night on a 63-yard run. Britt Barnes’ kick again was good, and the Bulldogs were up 28-8 with 1:04 left in the third quarter.

But the Panthers weren’t out of the game just yet as sophomore Marcus Richardson plunged in for a touchdown within the first four minutes of the fourth quarter. Michael Watkins again tried the two-point conversion, but this time it failed, leaving Brantley to claim the 28-14 victory, and putting the final points on the board for the night.

Marengo County ends their season as the Brantley Bulldogs (11-0) will play the winner of the J.U. Blacksher/Ariton game next Friday night.