Opelika edges Auburn, advances to state semifinals

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Posted: Friday, November 23, 2012 11:07 pm

It took nearly all 48 minutes, but Opelika’s first offensive points of the game were enough to push them past their biggest rival for the first time since 2007 and into the Class 6A semifinals.

On fourth-and-8 with less than two minutes remaining, Bulldog sophomore quarterback Matthew Christian threw a perfect pass deep over the middle to junior Marquise Fulton for a 34-yard touchdown, giving Opelika an 8-7 win over Auburn High at Duck Samford Stadium Friday night.

“I can’t put this into words,” Opelika head coach Brian Blackmon said. “This is just a great moment for our team, a great moment for our program, our community, our fans — everybody involved in this win. You don’t ever win as one person, and you don’t ever lose as one person.”

Opelika will play Carver-Montgomery at the Cramton Bowl next Friday with a chance to advance to the Class 6A state championship game.

Auburn quarterback Cameron Echols-Luper was called for intentional grounding in his own end zone with 1:16 remaining in the third quarter, cutting the Tigers’ lead to 7-2.

An unsuccessful 2-point conversion attempt followed Christian’s final touchdown pass, but Auburn turned the ball over on downs with 0.2 seconds remaining.

It broke a streak of five straight wins for Auburn in the series.

“That was a heck of a football game,” Auburn head coach Tim Carter said. “Anybody could have won it. They made the play at the end. What we didn’t do is get out in front. We didn’t get a lead.”

At least not a big enough lead.

Reuben Foster’s 1-yard touchdown run with 43 seconds remaining in the first half gave Auburn a 7-0 lead, but the Tigers weren’t able to put any more on the board.

“That’s a great football team,” Blackmon said of Auburn. “That’s not just a good football team. That’s a great football team. This was just two good communities. It was our boys against their boys slugging it out back and forth. It came down to we just made one more play tonight.”

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