GOOD HOPE, Ala. – The Good Hope Raiders clashed with the Hanceville Bulldogs in a classic Cullman County battle at James W. Shabel Stadium Friday night and this contest had both crowds on the edge of their seats the entire 48 minutes. In the end, it was Good Hope that came out on top in the latest edition of this rivalry 26-20.
Good Hope got the ball first to start out the game and right out of the gate, a bad snap quickly put them behind the chains. They nearly got it all back on third down as Colten Whatley found Jacob Haynes for 16 yards, but Hanceville forced an incomplete pass on fourth down. The Bulldogs got the ball at the 44 and Brosnan Ward got 12 yards on the first play of the series. Three plays later, Zach Campbell found Ward for 16 yards and another first down. On third down from the 13, Campbell found L.J. Smith on the right side as he was able to cross the goal line to give Hanceville a 7-0 lead with 7:03 remaining in the opening period.
The Bulldogs got the ball after a Raider punt, but Good Hope’s defense forced Hanceville to turn the ball over on downs as a bad snap put the Raiders in excellent field position at the 20. Whatley picked up 15 yards on the first play, but they didn’t pick up any yards on the next two plays, then a penalty backed them to the 10. On fourth down, Whatley found Kaleb Jones for a 10-yard touchdown pass to cut it to 7-6. The Raiders continued their momentum on the defensive side of the ball as Hank Hudson picked off a Campbell pass at the 42.
A bad snap put them in a huge hole to start its next series and were faced with a 3rd-and-23 from the 29. Whatley found Tucker Malin for a huge 38-yard gain. Later on, Whatley connected with Cone for 10 yards and another first down. Two plays later, Whatley found Malin for a 16-yard score to give Good Hope a 12-7 lead with 10:26 remaining in the first half. Both teams traded punts on their next series and the Bulldogs got the ball in great field position at the 38. It didn’t take them long to find the end zone as Campbell found Konnor Helms over the middle for a 23-yard touchdown pass play and that gave them the lead right back at 14-12 with 5:49 remaining in the first half. Both defenses held firm the rest of the half and the Bulldogs went into the half with a 14-12 lead over the Raiders.
Hanceville started out the second half with a trick play as Campbell pitched the ball off to Braxton Broad, who then proceeded to find Smith for 28 yards and a first down at the 38. The combination of Ward and Campbell helped the Bulldogs get to the six-yard line, but on fourth down, Good Hope’s defense stood tall as Campbell was just inches short of a first down. The Raiders started their drive at the one-yard line and Whatley quickly got them to the 10-yard line, then a personal foul on Hanceville put them at the 25.
Later on in the drive, Whatley would find Cone and K’mal Bell for 15 and 24 yards, respectively. The biggest play of the drive would come two plays later as Whatley connected with Malin for 38 yards and that put the Raiders at the six. Good Hope finished off their amazing drive with a one-yard touchdown run by Bell as that gave the Raiders a 20-14 with 3:53 remaining in the third quarter. Hanceville was forced to punt on its next series and the Raiders’ Kaleb Jones picked up 12 yards on the first play to put them at the 29. On second down from the 24, Whatley found Callahan Lindsey for 12 yards and a first down. Later on, Good Hope was faced with a huge fourth down from the nine. Whatley dropped back to pass and found Eli Clements in the back of the end zone to push their lead to 26-14 with 10:29 remaining in the game.
Hanceville looked to respond on its next series. A huge pass by Campbell gave the Bulldogs a first down and would get another one running the ball. Campbell used his legs and arm to perfection as he helped Hanceville move the ball down the field. A huge 29-yard pass by Campbell gave them a first down at the three and Ward found the end zone on the next play to cut the deficit to just six at 26-20 after the blocked PAT. The Bulldogs got a huge defensive stop as they forced Good Hope to punt. Hanceville had 5:33 to work with as they looked to win the game on their final series of the game.
A 12-yard pass play put the Bulldogs at the 27 and Campbell picked up a couple of huge first downs, including one on fourth down. Hanceville had first and goal at the four-yard line. Ward got stuffed for no gain and then, Campbell picked up three yards on second down. Ward got stuffed for no gain on third down and then came the play of the game as Good Hope’s defense stood tall and stopped Campbell for no gain to seal the huge, 26-20 region win for Good Hope.
Good Hope Head Coach Alan Scott was proud of his team for coming away with the huge region win over Hanceville and he saw a lot of good things out of Colten tonight.
“It was two teams that knew exactly what was on the line tonight. Both teams knew that there were some playoff implications and I think both teams laid it on the line. That’s all you can say. I’m so thankful that our guys were able to come out on top and preserve until the end,” Scott said. “I thought Colten did a great job managing the game. He got hit a few times, but he ran the ball well. He put it up to our receivers and they went up and got it. My hat’s off to him for being a great leader and a guy that just keeps working hard.”
Coach Scott and the rest of his staff knew they had to key in on Campbell and Ward for the entire game and the plan worked really well for them in the end. The Raider defense stood tall when Hanceville got close to the end zone twice.
“We knew they were their two best players, so we had to come up with some way to get some people around the football. Our guys had to make the tackles, so the scheme went fine. The players did fine, and I was proud of them. Every time 8 and 10 get the ball, you hold your breath because they’re so good, but our guys did a good job rallying to them,” Scott said. “That’s just a testament to our kids and how hard they wanted to win. They stood tall and they did that. I’m really proud of them. We’ve been preaching to the guys to keep fighting and they’ve done that.”
Whatley finished 15/26 for 212 yards and three touchdowns for Good Hope (3-4, 1-2). Malin finished with four receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown. Jones and Clements each added a touchdown reception and Bell ended up with the 1-yard rushing touchdown. Hudson added an interception for the Raiders. Campbell finished 10/19 for 111 yards and a pair of scores for Hanceville (2-5, 0-3); he added 66 more running the ball. Ward added 63 yards rushing and a score.
Good Hope will continue region play next Friday at Ashville and Hanceville will travel to Etowah for another big region game as well.
Copyright 2022 Humble Roots, LLC. All Rights Reserved.