Eagles, Andalusia battle to scoreless deadlock in exhibition contest

Published 7:49 am Monday, August 27, 2007

Defense is usually regarded to be ahead of the offense early in the season.
The gap was even wider than usual when the W.S. Neal Blue Eagles and Andalusia Bulldogs battled to a scoreless tie in Thursday's preseason game at W.S. Neal Stadium.
While W.S. Neal figures to have some early season adjustments rebuilding an offense that lost seven starters, which includes all six skill positions, the same can not be said of Andalusia. The Bulldogs return the bulk of their lineup that advanced to the Class 4A state semifinals last season and begin this year ranked No. 3 in the state preseason poll.
Both teams generated just 84 yards in offense in a game that was limited to three quarters. Andalusia racked up all of its yardage on the ground and attempted just one pass behind junior first-year starting quarterback Brent Shiver. The Bulldogs were without the services of Michael Berry, their leading rusher from a year ago. Berry did not play due to a death in the family earlier in the week.
W.S. Neal was a little more balanced with its attack, as it had 38 yards rushing and 46 passing. Thirty of those yards came in the third quarter when both teams had their back-up units in the game.
While W.S. Neal's first unit was able to get the ball into Andalusia territory on only one occasion in the first half, the Blue Eagles' defense dodged a couple of bullets.
Andalusia racked up 28 yards over six rushing plays that also included 20 yards on back-to-back face mask penalties to move from their own 34-yard line to the W.S. Neal 22.
The only time either team saw the end zone was nullified by a holding penalty when Shiver ran through the middle for what was originally a 22-yard touchdown run.
The remainder of the drive quickly stalled out after the penalty with an incomplete pass and an 11-yard loss after the Bulldogs recovered their own fumble in the backfield.
The Blue Eagles' defense came up with another stop later in the quarter when it generated the first of its two turnovers. Andalusia had just taken over at its own 47 when Akeem Green recovered a fumble at the W.S. Neal 49-yard line.
The Blue Eagles made their only penetration into Andalusia territory in the first half one play later when a three-yard quarterback keeper by Taylor Cash drove the Blue Eagles to the Andalusia 48.
A three-yard loss on a pass completion from Cash to Nate Sheffield on the following play put the Blue Eagles back into their own territory where they stayed the remainder of the half.
Andalusia strung together the game's best drive in the second quarter when it went 70 yards over eight plays.
The Bulldogs, who got runs of 16 and 13 yards by D.L. Smith, 12 from Shane Dorsey and 21 by Shiver, drove from their own 17 to the W.S. Neal 13 only to be turned away when Jonathan Benjamin recovered a fumble in the Andalusia backfield at the W.S. Neal 15.
The stingy performance by the Blue Eagles defense carried over to its second unit in the third quarter. W.S. Neal did not allow a first down in the second half and held the Bulldogs reserves to minus 10 yards of total offense.
W.S. Neal got its best field position of the game when it began its opening series of the third quarter at the Andalusia 45 after its defense posted a three-and-out on the first series of the second half.
It looked as if the drive would go nowhere when a 13-yard loss on a sack of W.S. Neal quarterback Donald Peacock set up what eventually became a third-and 19 from the Andalusia 44, but Peacock kept the drive alive when he hit Cody Brown for a 21-yard gain that moved the ball to the Andalusia 23.
That would be as far as the drive went, as things quickly stalled out after a holding penalty and W.S. Neal eventually turned the ball over on downs.
Both teams open up regular season play Friday. W.S. Neal begins its season with a non-region trip to Daleville, while Andalusia hosts Class 3A state power Pike County. Game time is 7 p.m.