There’s a reason why the Randolph County High School Tigers were 6-0 coming into Bulldog Stadium on Friday night. There are a few more reasons why they walked out of it and onto two team buses with a record of 7-0 three hours later having defeated host LaFayette High School by 37 points, 49-12. First place in Class 2A Region 5 or at least a piece of it was up for grabs and the Tigers decided very early in the game that they didn’t want to relinquish it. The contest brought out much more media than is usually present at Bulldogs Stadium. A local television channel camera man shuffled the sidelines filming game footage while three members of the 102.3 The Eagle’s sports team along with local print media (your’s truly included) roamed the sidelines. This was a big game by all meanings of the phrase. And then it wasn’t.
Much of what was the Bulldogs worse loss of the season came on the strength of Tiger senior running back Reco Hannah. The 6’2”, 200lb running back and outside linebacker amassed 294 yards rushing on only 23 carries. To be more blunt: He outgained the entire Bulldog offense. The onslaught started early as Hannah scored the first two of his five touchdowns on the evening during the first quarter to give the Tigers a 14-0 lead at the conclusion of the period. As they have done all season long, LaFayette falls behind before closing the gap. Tonight was not one of those nights but it looked like it would be after junior quarterback JaTarvious Whitlow scored on run from 20 yards out. An unsuccessful two-point conversion-the Tigers hit on all seven of their extra point attempts-made the score 14-6.The Bulldogs wouldn’t score again until the 5:17 mark of the third quarter. In the meantime Randolph County would take a 28-6 advantage into halftime and would score two more touchdowns-both by Hannah-during the third quarter. With the scoreboard reading 35-12 in the visitor’s favor Bulldog sophomore running back Robert Houston, Jr. fought off three would-be tacklers to score from five yards. Whitlow’s 56 yard run set up that Bulldogs final score. The Tigers would score for the final time with 2:05 remaining in the game courtesy of a short run by freshman running back Trent Lane. Tiger senior quarterback John Mark Prestridge who was steady the entire night, went 10 for 20 for 122 yards with an interception and a touchdown pass to sophomore receiver (and backup quarterback) Brody Wortham.
Special note has to be made for the way the LaFayette High School band and dance team not only entertained the near capacity crowd at halftime but also for the way they kept up a high level of musical and performance energy despite the score. If the game wasn’t a lot of fun to watch the band surely was.
Seniors Walter Dukes, DeVantae King and Takeo Higgins lead the team with eight tackles each, respectively. Free safety Quentin Ray, also a senior, had six tackles and an interception. Whitlow finished the game with a season low 91 passing yards while completing 7 of 16 passes with an interception (his sixth of the season against eight touchdown passes). He also ran for 144 yards. Houston, Jr. had a team high 66 yards rushing on 15 carries. Sophomore JaMarquez Boston-Gaines’ team high 79 yards receiving came from three catches.
The Bulldogs next face neighbor and rival Lanett on Friday, October 16. The Panthers defeated Loachapoka on Friday night, 40-12, and are undefeated at home (4-0) but winless on the road (0-4). LaFayette needs a win to solidify a playoff spot as well as to keep pace (though it may be too late) with first place Randolph County and second place Ranburne (who beat the Bulldogs at Bulldog Stadium three weeks ago) in the standings.
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