By JOSH FRYE
J.U. Blacksher’s football team, which came into its 2019 season opener with revenge on its mind, got what it wanted. The Bulldogs exorcised the demons that kept them out of the playoffs last year, mangling McIntosh High by a 65-22 margin last Friday, August 23.
In last year’s season opener JUB came up short, dropping a 28-13 decision to the Demons. That loss plagued the team, as it was knocked out of the postseason by the loss, which forced a tiebreaker that ended the Bulldogs’ season.
“We most certainly started the season off strong,” said JUB Head Coach Wes Sims. “This was a big win for us. Last year’s game against McIntosh was our worst in 10 years. It is nice to get some revenge and start things off in a positive direction.”
Sims added that while the Bulldogs won the game, things were not in as good a shape as the score might indicate.
“We made some mistakes on offense,” he said. “Special teams and defense made the game for us. Our offense was plagued by several blown assignments, and we had some trouble punting. We have to polish up offensively if we hope to continue to play well.”
The Bulldogs started out strong. Quarterback K.D. Rabb led off the scoring with an 8-yard run. Tucker Spence tacked on a 2-point conversion to give the Bulldogs an early 8-0 lead with 5:28 remaining in the first quarter.
Minutes later, Spence blocked his second punt of the night and dashed into the end-zone from 8-yards out. The 2-point conversion was added, and JUB led 16-0 with 3:43 left in the first quarter.
Spence continued to lead the defense over the duration of the game. Overall, he registered a touchdown, two blocked punts and a pair of 2-point conversions.
Bubba Nettles closed out the first-quarter scoring on a 45-yard interception return, which was followed by the first of seven Andrew Dawson PAT kicks to make the lead 23-0.
Rabb continued to light up the scoreboard in the second quarter, scoring on a 2-yard keeper. The scoring drive was followed up with another Dawson PAT, extending the JUB lead to 30-0 with 9:40 left in the half.
The Demons finally received a glimmer of hope when MHS quarterback DeVonta Sullivan connected on a 49-yard touchdown pass to Tarus Law. The extra-point attempt failed, and the Bulldogs maintained a 30-6 lead at the 7:43 mark of the first half.
The Bulldogs, however, showed that they were not finished with their first-half onslaught. With just over five minutes left to go in the half, Rabb launched a 25-yard TD pass to J.T. Tucker. Dawson remained perfect in the PAT department to extend the lead to 37-6 with 5:21 still to play in the first half.
As time ticked away, the JUB defense continued to sink its teeth into the McIntosh offense. Tucker pulled down an interception and switched into high gear, romping 102 yards for another score. Dawson followed up with a perfect PAT kick, making it 44-6 at the half.
As the Bulldogs returned to the field after intermission, the exorcism continued.
With quarter times reduced to eight minutes, Nettles scored his second touchdown of the night on a 62-yard burst up the middle. Dawson followed up with a picture-perfect PAT, making it 51-6 with 6:51 left in the third quarter.
The Demons showed a sliver of life late in the third period, scoring on a Sullivan-to-A.J. Phillips pass of 37 yards and a scoop-and-score, cutting the McIntosh deficit to 51-22.
The visitors’ sudden excitement quickly ended, though, as Nettles found his third touchdown-producing hole of the night, scoring on a 45-yard run with 7:30 to play. Dawson’s PAT brought the lead to 58-22.
Jaylin Hunt scored the final TD for the Bulldogs in the fourth quarter with a 15-yard run, and Dawson followed with another PAT.
The Bulldogs closed the gates on the Demons and experienced the sweet taste of revenge with a 65-22 final.
“Everyone contributed in this win,” said Sims. “We didn’t throw the ball well but had some great runs, and Dawson was absolutely perfect for us with the leg. We have some things to polish up on. We have to eliminate blown assignments, but it is nice to get past McIntosh and look to next week.”
The Bulldogs will travel to play Prattville Christian this Friday.