Eric Watts carried Opelika to a 48-20 victory over McAdory in the first round of the 6A playoffs.
Watts, who took over the game in the second quarter, finished the game with 198 yards and four touchdowns.
McAdory was not intimidated at all by facing the top seeded Bulldogs.
The Yellow Jackets picked off quarterback Brody Davis on the first drive of the game and immediately took a deep shot.
After both teams traded punts, they got the ball back and continued their aggressive play.
This time quarterback Desmon Dortch hit his man for a 37-yard gain.
A few plays later Dortch took the keeper for 2-yards and gave the Yellow Jackets a 7-0 lead with 5:37 left in the first quarter.
The fourth offensive drive was the worst for the Bulldogs as Davis was picked off again.
This time the McAdory defensive back took it 73-yards to the house in front of a stunned Bulldog Stadium. The return stretched the lead to 14-0 with 11:46 left in the half
“Brody made a poor decision on the pick-six, but we should have been running the football,” Opelika head coach Erik Speakman said.
After the offense was forced to punt, the pressure was on the defense to try and make something happen.
Opelika is perfectly okay with this.
“That’s what we are going to live on around here, and those guys know it,” Speakman said.
“They take a fireman’s approach to it. The only time a fireman gets called out is when something bad is going on, that’s our defense.”
They answered the call by forcing their third three-and-out of the game and following a 17-yard punt the offense had a golden opportunity to make something happen.
They did exactly that and when Watts took the jet sweep around the left edge and cut the lead to 14-7 with 4:32 left in the half, the entire game changed.
The Bulldogs’ defense continued their great work and forced yet another three-and-out.
This time Watts only needed to go two yards to complete the four-play 57-yard drive. The score tied the game at 14 with 1:24 left in the half.
McAdory was clearly reeling and this point and had a chance to head into the half tied. However, Dortch, who was being tackled was intercepted on second down.
Opelika, who at one point was down 14, now had 30 seconds to go 37 yards and take the lead.
They didn’t make their fans wait long.
On the first play, Davis connected with Marien Warner for a 35-yard gain. Two plays later Jamius Mitchell, who was in at quarterback, completed the jump pass to Charles Beems for the score. This gave them a 21-14 with five seconds left in the half.
In total, it took the Bulldogs only four and a half minutes of game time to rattle off 21 straight points and take over the game.
“We had some uncharacteristic mistakes in the first quarter, and dug ourselves a hole,” Speakman said.
He credited the turnaround to them “settling in” more than making any adjustments.
“It shows the character of our kids, honestly that’s Opelika football, that’s what it’s been built on,” he said.
The Yellow Jackets got the ball to start the second half and this was there last real chance to stay in the game.
The opportunity quickly passed them by.
Following a quick punt, Watts broke off a 72-yard run made it 28-14 with 8:46 left in the third.
Opelika’s defense forced another three-and-out and Watts once again did the rest. This time he only had to go 51-yards and effectively sealed the win for Opelika with 5:41 left in the third quarter.
On their next offensive possession, the Bulldogs were stuffed at the one after having first-and-goal from two.
However, on the Yellow Jackets first play they fumbled it and Jaylen Stinson picked it up and scored as the third quarter ended.
This capped off a dominant performance by the defense, who kept the game close until the offense eventually got going.
The Yellow Jackets came into the game averaging 28 points per game and only managed 14 against the defense and turned the ball over twice.
With the victory Opelika improved to 7-0 at home on the season, which is crucial since they will host St. Paul’s for the second round.
Opelika 48, McAdory 20
OHS — 7 7 0 6 — 20
MHS — 0 21 21 6 — 48
CHS — Dortch 2-yard run (XP good), 5:37
CHS — Evans 73-yard interception return (XP good), 11:46
OHS — Watts 4-yard run (XP good), 4:36
OHS — Watts 2-yard run (XP good), 1:24
OHS — Beems 1-yard reception from Mitchell (XP good), :05
OHS — Watts 72-yard run (XP good), 8:46
OHS — Watts 51-yard run (XP good), 5:41
OHS — Stinson 3-yard fumble return (XP good), :00
CHS — Dortch 6-yard run (XP no good), 8:31
OHS — Malik Finley 2-yard run (XP no good), :30