PREP FOOTBALL: Hanceville finishes season with 41-26 win at East Lawrence

The Hanceville Bulldogs wrapped up the 2023 season with a 41-26 win at East Lawrence Friday night. (Katie Drummond/The Cullman Tribune)

TRINITY, Ala. – The Hanceville Bulldogs capped off the 2023 season with a road matchup at East Lawrence Friday night and with the help of some turnovers on defense and several explosive plays from the offense, the Bulldogs were able to cap the year with a 41-26 road win over the Eagles.

East Lawrence returned the game’s opening kickoff back for a touchdown to take an early, 6-0 lead over but the Bulldogs responded quickly. Hanceville drove down the field on its first possession and capped a scoring drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Hunter Black to L.J. Smith to tie the game at 6. The Eagles hit back on the ensuing possession, scoring on a 30-yard touchdown pass to move back in front 12-6 with seven minutes to play in the first quarter.

Later in the second quarter, another Eagles touchdown put East Lawrence in font 18-6 but the Bulldogs dominated the final five minutes of the half. After a big gain on a completion to J.T. Davis moved Hanceville across midfield, Black found Leith in the back of the end zone for a touchdown to cut the lead to 18-12 with 3:26 on the clock. The Eagles lined up to punt on their next possession, but the kick was blocked by Smith and scooped up by Leith who ran it into the end zone for another Bulldogs touchdown. After a successful two-point conversion, Hanceville went into the halftime break leading East Lawrence 20-18.

The Bulldogs’ first possession of the second half ended with a turnover on downs but after the Eagles moved into Hanceville territory a few plays later, an interception by Smith cut the scoring opportunity short and gave the ball back to the Bulldogs midway through the third quarter. A big gain on a quick screen pass to Davis set up Hanceville’s offense deep in Eagles territory and the Bulldogs capped off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run from Keiton Whaley, stretching the lead 26-18 with less than three minutes remaining in the third.

Hanceville forced a turnover on downs to stop the next East Lawrence possession and the Bulldogs capitalized on the turnover when Eli Clements took a handoff on the next play and went 80 yards to the house for another Hanceville touchdown to make it a 34-18 game with just over 10 minutes to play. An interception by Boston Brewer cut another scoring opportunity for East Lawrence Short and gave the ball back to the Bulldogs with great field position with eight minutes remaining. A few plays later, Leith scored from 10 yards out on a reverse to stretch the Hanceville lead to 41-18. The Eagles found the end zone one more time before the final horn sounded but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Hanceville lead and the Bulldogs wrapped up the season with a 41-26 win over East Lawrence.

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