Addison Bulldogs survive Sumiton Christian, 24-21

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Josh McBrayer

SUMITON – It was a perfect night for football when the No. 8 Addison Bulldogs took to the road to face the Sumiton Christian Eagles.

Addison won the toss and elected to defer to the second half, sending their defense to the field first, and it proved to be the right decision. The Bulldogs’ kickoff pinned the Eagles deep in their own territory. Sumiton Christian managed to get the ball to their own 16 but was forced to punt.

Addison returned the punt all the way into Sumiton’s half of the field where they set up shop at the Eagles’ 48. Bulldog quarterback Noah Rice got the first Addison drive started in a positive way, calling his own number on back-to-back plays for a total of 11 yards and a new set of downs. He found Gage Gilliland for 10 yards all the way down to the Sumiton Christian 27-yard line, but an incomplete pass coupled with a false start penalty bogged down the drive and the Bulldogs tuned it over on downs.

Starting from their own 29-yard line, Sumiton Christian got their second drive going with a rush from Tanner Talley for a pair of positive yards. Sammy Latham got the next four carries for 30 yards all the way down to the Addison 39. The Eagles kept it on the ground for the remainder of the drive and finished with Tally crossing the goal line from 10 yards out. The PAT split the uprights putting the Eagles up to 7-0 with 2:37 left to play in the first quarter.

“I don’t think they ever knew they was down really,” said Addison head coach David Smothers with a wry smile. “I don’t ever think they look at the scoreboard much.”

Whether or not the Bulldogs looked at the scoreboard, they were not down for long. Starting from the Sumiton Christian 43, Addison methodically marched the ball down the field, finding themselves on the Eagles’ 24 as the first quarter came to a close.

Sumiton Christian looked poised for another big stop as the second quarter started, throwing Benjamin Robinson for a 3-yard loss. Following an incomplete pass on third down, the Bulldogs found themselves with a fourth-and-12 from the 26. The fourth down pass fell incomplete, but a penalty gave the Bulldogs new life and they capitalized. Robinson busted through the line on fourth-and-2 for 10 yards and the first down.  Rice then called his own number and rumbled 6 yards for the touchdown. Addison converted the 2-point play and took an 8-7 lead with 10:25 left in the half.

Addison was able to pin the Eagles deep, down to the three, thanks to a 15-yard facemask penalty that was assessed on the kickoff. This helped to force Sumiton Christian into a three and out. Addison returned the Eagles’ punt to the 13 where they once again set up shop on the Sumiton Christian half of the field.

It took just a single play for the Bulldogs to break the plane for the second time in the quarter when Robinson took the handoff from Rice and went 13 yards for the touchdown. He also added the 2-point conversion to make the score 19-7 in favor of Addison.

The next few possessions there was jockeying for field position as neither team could get much going. However, this all changed on Addison’s fourth possession of the quarter, but not for the Bulldogs. On a 3rd and 9, a vicious sack by Garrett Glass caused a fumble that was scooped up by Nick Collins who ran 48 yards to pay dirt with the scoop and score. Sumiton Christian nailed the PAT and trailed by just two, 16-14, heading to the locker room at the half.

Addison got the ball to start the half but a big defensive stand by the Eagles forced a three and out leaving Sumiton Christian with the ball on their own 37 where they would take advantage.

Putting together an impressive second half opening drive, the Sumiton Christian Eagles put together an 11-play drive that covered 63 yards and ended with a touchdown when quarterback Caleb Headrick found Latham from 8 yards out. The Eagles tacked on the PAT and took their first lead of the night 21-16, but the lead was short-lived.

After the kickoff, Addison had the ball on their own 33, looking to take back the lead. Chandler Cookenmaster got the drive started with a 4-yard scamper. Rice found Gilliland for 10 yards following a false start penalty. Zeb Maze got the next three carries for a total of 30 yards, down to the Eagles’ 28. From here it was running back by committee with Rice and Robinson getting the carries. The drive culminated in a 3-yard plunge by Robinson to give the lead back to Addison, 24-21, as the third quarter ended.

Both teams went back and forth in the last frame, but it was Addison that came out on top, ending the game in victory formation as Bryant Ridgeway took a knee to run out the clock. The Bulldogs improved to 4-0 on the season and will host Lynn next week.

Rice finished the game 5 of 11 passing for 47 yards. He also carried the ball 15 times for 72 yards and a touchdown. Robinson added 12 carries for 37 yards and two touchdowns.