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Bulldogs are Tuscaloosa-bound

The Brantley Bulldogs and head coach David Lowery have received an early Christmas present – a chance at the AHSAA Class 1A State Championship title in Tuscaloosa after their 41-14 beating of Loachapoka Friday night.

Lowery had led his Bulldogs to two Class 1A Runner up titles, once in 1999 and again in 2005. Brantley’s last 1A state championship came in 1998 under then head coach Roland Jones.

As for Friday’s semi-finals’ victory over the Indians, Lowery gave much credit to his offensive line.

“Our kids came out ready to play and took control of the game early, especially up front,” Lowery said. “Our offensive line won it for us Friday night—we were able to rush for over 300 yards—the offensive line doesn’t always get all the credit it deserves.”

The Bulldogs were the first to put points on the board as Teven Daniels caught a 15-yard reverse pass from Tory Upshaw for the first score. Adam Hill’s PAT was true, and with 8:07 left in the first quarter, the Bulldogs were up 7-0.

The next score came during the second quarter on a pass from quarterback Chase Hall to Tory Upshaw, who snatched it out of the air before hitting the ground. Hill’s extra point attempt was good, and the Bulldogs controlled the lead, 14-0, after scoring in the first eight seconds of the second quarter.

Loachapoka had trouble gaining any yardage, and with 9:23 on the board, quarterback Patrick Moore fumbled the ball, but Jared Wiley scooped it up. After a long drive, Brantley added another six points as Teven Daniels ran the ball in for a TD. Hill’s PAT was good, and Brantley led 21-0 with 4:43 left in the second quarter.

Loachapoka still couldn’t get down the field as Brantley’s Zach Wiley intercepted an Indian pass at the goal line and returned it for 36 yards for a Brantley first down, thus starting the Bulldogs’ next TD drive. Daniels carried the ball down to the five-yard line, and Chase Hall ran it in for a touchdown with just 15 seconds left in the first half. Hill’s PAT was good, and Brantley went into the locker room with a comfortable 28-0 lead.

Loachapoka managed their first points of the night during the third quarter as they first recovered a Bulldog fumble at the Brantley 46-yard line. QB Patrick Moore ran the ball in on the very next play for the Indians’ first TD. The PAT was good, and with 7:07 left in the third quarter, Brantley still led 28-7.

With 15 seconds left in the third quarter, Teven Daniels added another six points for the Bulldogs, while Hill added another PAT, bringing the score to 35-7.

A Loachapoka fumble during the fourth quarter set up the play for the Bulldogs’ final points of the night. After Brantley recovered the ball, Devonte Porter carried the ball downfield to the 39 yard line. Derek Holley punched it in for the TD; Hill’s PAT was blocked, but the Bulldogs led 41-7 with 5:42 left in the game.

Loachapoka scored once more on a pass play with 3:23 left in the game, ending the Indians’ season with a 41-14 loss to the Bulldogs.

Students, parents, and fans alike ran onto the field to celebrate the big win with the Bulldogs.

Senior Chase Hall said he was “really excited” about now heading to Tuscaloosa to play for the state championship.

“We’ll be focusing on their (Hackleburg’s) defense, watching films, and just basically getting ready for them,” Hall said after the game. “We want this state championship.”

Amidst all the excitement, Hall had to stop and remember that Friday night was the last time he’d play high school football in Bulldog Stadium.

“I guess if this has to be my last time playing on this field, this is the way to go out,” Hall said, smiling.

Former Bulldog running back and Auburn freshman Anthony Gulley was on hand to see the Bulldogs win the semi-final pairing.

“This couldn’t have happened to a better group,” Gulley said. “It’s been a long time coming—we’d get to the second round, the third round and get knocked out—this year was their year.”

During Friday night’s win, the defense was led by Chase Hall and Chester Person with 7 tackles each, while Jared Wiley had 6 tackles and one fumble recovery. Teven Daniels also had 6 tackles, and Zach Wiley had an interception.

Offensively, Devonte Porter had 114 yards rushing, Derek Holley had 75 yards rushing, Teven Daniels had 78, and Chase Hall ground out 84 yards. Teven Daniels had two rushing TDs and one reception TD.

Chase Hall was 7-7 passing for 112 yards. Tory Upshaw had 3 receptions for 40 yards and one TD, plus a TD pass.

The Brantley Bulldogs (14-1) will face Hackleburg (15-0) in Tuscaloosa’s Bryant-Denny Stadium at 3 p.m. for the AHSAA Class 1A State Championship title.

A pep rally for the team will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. in downtown Brantley.