Cat and dog fight
SWEET WATER – The night was all about Anthony Landrum up the middle.
The 6-1, 180-pound freshman running back for Sweet Water led his team to a 43-30 win over the Florala Wildcats in the Game 1 of the state Class 1A championship.
Landrum amassed 272 yards rushing on 21 carries, and posted five of the Bulldog’s six touchdowns, the last coming on a 57-yard run right up the middle with just 3:09 left to play in the game at Victory Field.
“It’s just unbelievable – he’s just a freshman,” said Wayne Luker, the team’s statistician and brother to head coach Stacy Luker.
Landrum, who also nailed Wildcat quarterback Robby Evans with sack for an 8-yard loss with just 1:44 left in the game, put his head down and barreled through the line of scrimmage, grinding out the yardage throughout four quarters of action.
The Wildcats would draw first blood posting on a sweep around the right end for the touchdown with 8:47 left in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs answered back on the their first possession, starting at their own 31-yard line. It would be Landrum on the fist carry who busted a six-yard run up the middle that set up a Patrick Gamble 4-yard
carry on second-and-six and the first down.
Landrum again carried on the second down on a little mis-direction play up the middle that posted the Bulldog’s first score with 7:40 left in the first quarter.
With just under two minutes left in the first quarter, Landrum would get his second TD of the night on a 3-yard carry into the end zone after a second and three pass for 176 yards from quarterback Deon Williams to Gamble put the Bulldogs
in striking distance.
Junior Trevion Lockett hit up the middle for a 7-yard gain before Landrum would get stuffed by Wildcat defender Michael Fleming. A quarterback sneak would get the ball to the 3, and it was Landrum through the left side for the score.
A real cat-and-dog fight would unfold after the Dawgs kicked. Evans would connect with Vance Pettus on second-and-five on a 66-yard touchdown pass over the middle, making it 14-all with 1:14 left in the quarter.
Early in the second quarter, freshman Drew Luker had a chance to put six more on the board for the Bulldogs, a dream that ended with a dropped pass in the end zone. The Dawgs settled for three on the field goal, making the score 17-14 with 9:44 left in the half.
A big break came for the Bulldogs on the Florala’s next possession, busting up a pass to Zach Brady on a fourth-and-two conversion attempt, giving the Bulldogs possession on the Wildcat 41.
Sweet Water wasn’t going to miss a golden opportunity, just eight plays later putting another six on the board on a Gamble carry, making the score 24-4 with 4:43 left in the half.
penalties – one for illegal participation, the other for holding – and a turnover on downs with about four minutes left in the half brought up a fourth-and-six punting situation. A close hit penalty – the Bulldogs second big break of the night – put them on the Wildcat 35-yard line.
On first-and-ten, Landrum would bust up the middle, driving the 35 yards for another TD with 2:21 left in the half, which ended with Sweet Water ahead 30-14.
The second half opened with the Bulldogs looking a little cold and the Wildcats mounting a come back, pulling to within three points.
Sweet Water received the second-half kickoff, which sailed out-of-bounds, starting the possession at the Bulldog 35-yard line. That drive ended with a fourth down conversion failure.
The Wildcats would capitalize on the failure, driving from their own 40-yard line to find pay dirt on a 2-yard carry by Smiley, bringing the score to within 10 with 8:26 left in the third quarter.
As the fourth quarter got under way – with Bulldog players and coaches holding up four fingers and chanting “fourth, fourth” – the Wildcats were threatening from the Bulldog 3-yard line.
After a strong goal-line stand by Bulldog defense, the Wildcats punched in another score from the one-and-a-half with 9:52 left in the game.
On Sweet Water’s next possession, they would show why they deserved a playoff berth.
It was Landrum up the middle times 4 for a touchdown, amassing 65 yards on the drive and making the score 37-27 with 8:28 left to play.