Written By: Daniel Payne
Photos by Bridget Stokes
Friday the 13th is a day that many believe to be a day full of bad luck. It’s also a day that strange things happen. The Choctaws traveled to Anniston this past Friday which just so happened to be the 13th. While there weren’t really any strange things that happened, we have to remember that this is 2020 and a lot of strange things have been happening this season.
The Bulldogs came into the game with a 4-6 record after starting off the season 0-5. The Bulldogs took the field and they and their fans were still high from having upset Williamson on the road in round one and were looking to pull off another upset against the 9th ranked Choctaws.
Bibb would receive the opening kickoff and began to move down the field as Deshun Murrell found running room and had the Choctaws in Bulldog territory after gaining 27 yards on five carries. On first down from the Bulldogs 38, Cole McCarty faked to Murrell and went to his right and out ran the Bulldogs defenders for a 38 yard touchdown run. Baylor Hughey’s extra point was good and with 9:18 to go in the first quarter, Bibb led 7-0.
Both teams would be forced to punt on their next possession and after a 27 yard punt the Bulldogs began their second drive at their own 30 yard line. Behind the running of Braden Roberts and the passing of Kamron Sadlin the Bulldogs had begun to move the ball as the first quarter came to a close. Anniston faced a 3rd and 3 from the Choctaws 27 as the quarter began but following three penalties they soon faced a 3rd and 29 from the 43. Sadlin dropped back and found Antonio Kite behind the secondary for a first down at the 1 yard line. Roberts would score on a 1 yard dive on the next play. Kevin Escareno extra point was good and the score was tied 7-7 with 10:30 left in the first half.
The Choctaws next drive would begin at the Bulldogs 45 yard line following Letrell Morrison’s return. Murrell was the workhorse again as he kept finding holes in the Bulldogs defense. With 8:06 left in the half, Murrell darted in from the 1 for the score. The extra point was no good leaving the score 13-7 in favor of the Choctaws.
The two teams would turn the ball over on their next possession. The Bulldogs started their fourth drive of the night at the Choctaws 43 yard line with 3:58 left in the half. Sadlin would score a few plays later on a 4 yard touchdown run. Escareno’s extra point was good to make the score 14-13.
Bibb would drive down the field and looked as though they were going to score as the first half came to an end, but the Bulldogs defense stopped the Choctaws at the one yard line to preserve their one point lead as the game headed to halftime.
As the second half began, neither teams offense could get anything going on their first possession. The Bulldogs began their second drive of the half at their own 8 yard line following an interception. Sadlin and Roberts both had big runs to move the ball out to the 35 yard line. Sadlin then hit Kevontae Davis for a 40 yards gain down to the Choctaws 25 yard line. Roberts would score his second touchdown of the night from a yard out. Escareno’s extra point made it 21-13 Bulldogs with 1:04 left in the third quarter.
Murell broke free for 19 yards and 24 yards on back to back carries to set the Choctaws up deep in Bulldogs territory as the game headed to the final quarter. With 11:18 left in the game, Murrell bullied his way in from the 3 yard line to make the score 21-19. Murrell would then find the end zone on the two point conversion to tie the score at 21-21.
Anniston again would rely on the legs of Roberts and Sadlin and quickly moved down the field. With 8:30 left in the game. Roberts scored his third touchdown of the night on a three yard plunge. Escareno’s extra point was good and the Bulldogs were back up 28-21.
The Choctaws took over at their at their own 23 for what would turn out to be the game winning drive. Murrell and McCarty broke free for big gains and it wasn’t long before the Choctaws were deep inside the Bulldogs red zone. Following a 5 yard run by McCarty, Murrell powered his way for 9 yards to the 3. On first and goal from the 3, Murrell went untouched into the end zone to make it 28-27. Coach Geohagan then went into Dabo Sweeney mode and went to the “Bring your own guts” mode and made the call to go for two and the lead. Murrell again took the handoff and easily walked into the end zone on the right side to make the score 29-28 with 3:19 left to play in the game.
This is where as a Choctaw player, coach, and fan you would find out just how strong your heart is. Anniston took over at their own 25 following the kickoff and in four plays, Sadlin had the Bulldogs at the Choctaws 36 yard line. On first down, Sadlin ran to his left and broke free down the sidelines and seemed to be headed for the end zone. However, Choctaws defender Dillon Williams sprinted from across the field and knocked Sadlin out of bounds at the 2 yard line with 1:59 to play.
Sadlin would try to run it in on the next two plays. Following an illegal shift penalty the Bulldogs were pushed back to the 6. On first down Sadlin was meet by Jerrell Leverette and a host of other Choctaws who stopped him at the 4 yard line. On second down Sadlin raced to his right but Morrison was there and brought him down at the 2 yard line.
This is where anyone associated with the Choctaws hearts would stop at least three times. On third down, Sadlin hit Davis for what appeared to be the go ahead touchdown. However, the Bulldogs were called for offensive pass interference and ineligible receiver downfield. This was followed by a delay of game penalty and the Bulldogs were now facing 3rd and goal from the 15. Sadlin’s pass attempt hit Kite in the hands but Murrell knocked the ball out of his hands before he could secure the catch.
The Bulldogs were now faced with a 4th and goal and sent Escareno and the field goal unit onto the field. Everyone on Bibb’s side held their breath and some even admitted to closing their eyes as the ball was snapped. The kick sailed off to the right and was short. The Choctaw fans erupted but then realized that the Choctaws had called a timeout before the ball was snapped. If they thought the tension and nerves were bad the first time, it was fixing to be three times as bad on the second try. This time Escareno’s kick had plenty of distance but sailed off to the left to send the Choctaws and their fans into a frenzy and on to the third round of the playoffs for the second year in a row, and just the sixth time in school history.
Murrell led the Choctaws with 265 yards on 39 carries and 3 touchdowns. McCarty added 125 yards on 10 carries and a score.
Angel Romero led the defense with 12 tackles. Williams added 10 stops. Logan Browning and Jaqwon Lockett each had 9 stops with Browning adding a fumble recovery to his night.
Bibb will travel to Roanoke next Friday to take on Handley. Game time will be at 7 pm. Tickets will be sold again on the GoFan app. Let’s pack the stands like we did this week . Hope to see you there.