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Two different New Albany squads took the field against Pontotoc last Friday night.
The first half saw dominance by the Bulldogs, as their defensive effort produced three turnovers and three sacks, while scoring both of their touchdowns off of Warrior turnovers to take a 14-3 lead to the half. After halftime, the game took a total 360, as Pontotoc stunned the 'Dawgs, scoring 28 unanswered to take the 31-14 win.
Dalvin Carr opened the game with an interception, which set up the 'Dawgs first touchdown, a 39-yard pass from Tyler Basil to Taylor Goode. Pontotoc would get on the board in the first with a 32-yard field goal, making it 7-3 after one quarter.
A fumble recovery by Zach Hand in the second quarter set up Eric Johnson's 10-yard touchdown run, giving the Bulldogs the 14-3 advantage at the half.
In the second half, Pontotoc came out on fire, creating turnovers and sacking Basil five times, while scoring 28 unanswered. The scoring started after an interception by Basil, as Canden Dallas found Rashad Dixon on a 51-yard reception. Dallas would give the Warriors the lead late in the third off a 46-yard run, making it 17-14.
Mid-way through the final quarter, Dallas again ran in for the score, and threw to Randall Crayton for the final touchdown toward the end of the game, off of a New Albany fumble.
“It was just a reverse in the second half,” NAHS head coach Ron Price said. “Our offense could never get going. Defensively, they got a couple big plays on us, and we had a great game plan, thought our coaches did a great job preparing our team. Pontotoc is a great team, and they've been in this situation before. They know how to win, and they found a way to finish the game tonight.”
Basil finished the night 13-27 for 163 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Johnson and Brown each ran for over 50 yards, with Johnson getting 58 and Brown 51 to lead the rushing attack. Goode had five catches for 78 yards with a touchdown.
Defensively, Dalvin Carr helped the unit with two interceptions, while Brown had eight tackles, along with Josh Creekmore. Luke Foley had three tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery, while Zach Hand had five tackles and six assists and a fumble recovery. Riley Alef had five tackles and six assists, and Kelvin Worship and Jullian Mitchell each had a sack in the.
The road does not get any easier, as the Bulldogs will travel to undefeated Itawamba this week before hosting North Pontotoc and Shannon, all teams that are ahead of the 'Dawgs in the division.
“We've got our work cut out for us. We're learning how to be a good football team, and we're learning how to be a power in our district, but we're not there yet. We're heading in the right direction, but give it up to Pontotoc. They're a great team, and they deserved this game tonight,” Price said.
Despite the disappointing loss, Price found positives to take from the loss.
“We came out in the first half and made big plays, got interceptions, and our guys were where they needed to be, but they have to learn that we play four quarters,” Price explained. “We got excited at halftime to be up like we were, but you have to come out and finish the third and fourth quarter. Pontotoc was stronger than us, they ran the ball harder in the second half, and to compete in our division we have to do the same things. Our kids are going to get there. We just didn't have it tonight.”
NAHS will be on the road this week facing off against Itawamba.