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One play was the difference maker, ending the Bulldogs run in the playoffs, as they fell 24-21 at Cleveland on Friday.
Tied at 21 late in the fourth, New Albany had an opportunity to take the lead once more, but the Wildcats partially blocked a field goal attempt by Alex Harrison, and beginning at their 11-yard line, drove the ball down field to set up the game winning field goal as time expired.
“We took care of business tonight,” coach Ron Price said. “Our kids came out and left it all on the field. Cleveland made one more play than we did, and I hope those guys have a lot of success next week, and hopefully they’ll continue to move on in the playoffs.”
The Bulldogs led throughout, building a 14-3 lead after the first quarter on runs by Josh Creekmore and Boston Newsome. Cleveland connected on its second field goal in the second quarter and tied the game at 14 late in the half on a touchdown run and two-point conversion by Eddie McCadney.
The lone score in the third came off of Creekmore’s second touchdown, which gave the ‘Dawgs a brief lead at 21-14.
“Unbelievable kid,” Price said of Creekmore. “He gives us 110 percent every time he’s on the field, and he’s that kind of kid off of the field. You hate to lose kids like that in your program because you don’t know when the next one is going to come along, but he’s a first class kid and a heck of a football player.”
The lead was short lived, as Cleveland opened the fourth quarter with a touchdown reception by Raymond Gee. New Albany had an opportunity late to retake the lead, keeping its final offensive drive alive, executing on two third down plays by Creekmore and Josh Hardin, but were stopped short by the Wildcat defense.
New Albany ends the 2011 season at 9-4 (4-1), accomplishing many feats and proving they were still a strong playoff contender despite losing 22 seniors last season.
“I’m thrilled to death with our football team this season. To be where we are right now, no one expected that back in August,” Price said. “It’s a credit to our senior class. Those guys have been outstanding since day one. They have so much character, and they’re all going to be successful men down the road. I’m just thankful to have been along for the ride this year. It’s been a lot of fun, and I just hate to see it come to an end tonight.”