Bulldogs ground WSN
Published 10:27 am Sunday, August 27, 2006
By BY BRUCE HIXON – sports editor
It did not seem to matter who W.S. Neal Blue Eagles coach Blaine Hathcock sent out on defense.
The Andalusia Bulldogs' offense exposed plenty of holes in W.S. Neal's starting and backup defensive units in a 44-18 win over the Blue Eagles in Thursday's preseason game at Andalusia.
Andalusia amassed 457 yards worth of offense, 444 of which came on the ground. The Bulldogs racked up 278 of those yards and 28 points against W.S. Neal's starting unit in just over two quarters of play before the backup troops picked up where their predecessors left off.
W.S. Neal's starting offensive unit was productive for the most part. The Blue Eagles starters tallied 198 yards in just over two quarters of work. Senior quarterback Marquis Barksdale accounted for much of that production with 128 yards over nine attempts. Barksdale completed his first five tosses, two of which went for touchdowns of 17 and 62 yards.
One of the few defensive stops W.S. Neal had came on the opening series when Xavier Singleton recovered a Bulldog fumble in the backfield at the Andalusia 19-yard line.
Three plays later Barksdale hit Louis Ray Nelson on a slant pass to the left for a 17-yard touchdown. The Blue Eagles were unable to get a kick off on the point after attempt due to a high snap, which left the lead 6-0 with 10:36 left in the opening frame.
Andalusia's offense started to hit its stride on the ensuing series when it drove 55 yards over seven plays, all of which came on the ground. Martin Watson covered the last 29 of those yards on a touchdown run to the right.
Gillis Jones hit the first of his six PAT kicks and gave Andalusia a 7-6 lead with 7:34 left in the quarter.
W.S. Neal continued to keep the scoreboard operator busy when it responded four plays later when Barksdale hit Justin Howard on a 62-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline. Even though Barksdale's two-point pass failed, the Blue Eagles still had a 12-7 lead with 5:55 left in the quarter.
Andalusia, which was ranked ninth in the state in the Class 4A preseason poll, took the lead for good on the following series when it drove 62 yards over nine plays. Michael Berry went over the middle for a two-yard score that put the Bulldogs ahead. Gillis' kick extended the lead to 14-12 with 9:59 left in the half.
The key sequence of the game was the next two drives. Thanks largely to a 30-yard completion from Barksdale to Justin Smith, the Blue Eagles drove all the way to the Andalusia five-yard before the possession ran out of steam on downs.
Perhaps the biggest play of the game came two plays later when Watson broke loose for an 82-yard run. Watson was finally pulled down at the W.S. Neal five-yard line on a touchdown-saving tackle by Smith. The long run set up a fourth-and-goal one-yard touchdown plunge by Berry with 33 seconds left in the half. Jones' PAT made it 21-12.
Both starting units played just one offensive series in the second half, which lasted less than two minutes.
W.S. Neal's possession ended abruptly when Barksdale was picked off by Justin Ainsworth just inside Blue Eagle territory.
Andalusia cashed in the miscue when Ledarrius McNeil's 28-yard run set up quarterback keepers of 13 and three yards by Mellown. Mellown's latter run and Jones' PAT kick took the lead up to 28-12.
The Blue Eagles' reserves had a disastrous beginning. Back-to-back low snaps got past quarterback Taylor Cash. While Cash recovered both, he was tackled in the endzone on the second one for a safety that made it 30-12 with 9:18 left in the quarter.
The Bulldogs reserve unit added two fourth quarter touchdowns to its total on a two-yard run by Kenneth Chambers and a seven-yard run by Shane Dorsey.
W.S. Neal's backups ended a string of 37 unanswered Andalusia points with 1:42 left when Wayne Mitchell scored on a four-yard run. The PAT failed after a bad snap.
W.S. Neal opens the regular season Friday when it hosts Daleville at 7 p.m.