Opelika defeated Benjamin Russell 45-17 for their third regional win of the season and continued to hold the Region 3-6A lead.
Opelika (5-1, 3-0) got the ball first and quickly made something of its drive.
Quarterback Brody Davis made a 34-yard touchdown pass to Omar Holloway to get the game started and take the lead. Benjamin Russell couldn’t do anything with its drive as the Bulldogs recorded a three-and-out.
Opelika couldn’t be stopped and got another touchdown off a run from tight end Jamius Mitchell.
The Wildcats still struggled on offense and turned the ball over again, however on Opelika’s third drive Benjamin Russell’s safety Gavin Edwards intercepted the ball and gave the Wildcats a fighting chance heading into the second quarter.
Benjamin Russell (3-4, 0-3) couldn’t make more than a two-yard carry and ultimately forfeited the ball once again.
The Wildcats got on the board with a field goal, but still trailed by 11 points.
The Bulldogs answered quickly with a 37-yard run from running back Eric Watts to push them down the field. Then running back JD Tolbert grabbed a 26-yard touchdown that got called back due to holding, but that didn’t stop him from getting an official touchdown on the next drive.
The Wildcats couldn’t do the same and turned the ball over, which led Opelika right back toward the end zone. They couldn’t cross into it, but picked up a field goal to add onto their lead with seconds left in the second quarter. However, this wouldn’t be their final drive of the half as safety Kory McCoy intercepted the ball.
The interception gave the Bulldogs a final chance to grab a touchdown which they did on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Davis to Mitchell. This gave Opelika a 31-3 lead and ended the first half of the game.
Benjamin Russell made quick moves entering the third quarter picking up a touchdown on the first play with a 34-yard run from Hezekiah Hunter. Soon after the Wildcats picked off the ball and scored another touchdown from Denzel Greene. The Wildcats trailed 31-17.
This lit a fire in the Bulldogs. The kick landed around the Bulldog’s 25-yard line and was picked up by Purdue commit Jaylen Stinson and ran into the end zone. The Bulldogs weren’t finished and forced a fumble, which turned right into a touchdown from running back Nate Evans to push Opelika’s lead to 45-17.
“Second half we came out a little flat,” head coach Erik Speakman said. “[We] had a misalignment on that first play on the long touchdown run. We had three guys on their side, outside the secondary and they cut it back across the middle and had nobody there. Then we made the bad throw to give them a touchdown, so we settled down after that, but I wasn’t real happy with how we came out in the second half.”
The teams would trade the ball back and forth, but the Bulldogs would this lead through the rest of the fourth quarter to take down the Wildcats and secure their third regional victory.
Opelika will face Calera at Bulldog Stadium next week for another regional game.
“[Calera] will come in another region game so they'll be fighting to get into the playoffs,” Speakman said. “Every game is a playoff game in this region because you can't mess up and it’s such a short season until the playoff games, so we’ll have to go fight and play hard next week.”
Opelika 45, Benjamin Russell 17
O - 14 17 14 0 - 45
B - 0 3 14 0 - 17
O - Omar Holloway 34-yd reception from Brody Davis (XP good); 8:46
O - Jamius Mitchell 12-yd carry (XP good); 5:05
B - Field Goal; 5:47
O - JD Tolbert 31-yd carry (XP good); 5:11
O - Marshall Meyers field goal; 0:47
O - Jamius Mitchell 11-yd reception from Brody Davis (XP good); 0:26
B - Hezekiah Hunter 34-yd carry (XP good); 11:44
B - Denzel Greene 20-yd interception (XP good); 5:42
O - Jaylen Stinson 75-yd kick return (XP good); 5:26
O - Nate Evans 8-yd carry (XP good); 4:16