Bulldogs are Birmingham bound

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 1, 2007

SWEET WATER &8212; As with all great games, it boiled down to one play. One play that shifted the momentum out of Maplesville&8217;s hands and into the tight awaiting grasp of the Sweet Water Bulldogs.

In the first minute of the fourth quarter Maplesville&8217;s quarterback, who&8217;s leadership of the Red Devil offense was befuddling the Bulldog defense in the second half and who had just moved the ball 48 yards on the two previous plays, found himself surrounded by purple Bulldog jerseys on a first and 10 from the Sweet Water 25. Hit in a scramble, Marcus Wilson coughed up the ball, which was covered up by Sweet Water&8217;s Johnny Lockett at the 22-yard line.

Looking back on what flashed through his mind when he saw the ball lose, Lockett said: &8220;I have got to get that one. It could be the ball game.&8221;

Two plays and 78 yards later, Lockett finished what he started when he ran the ball in from 30 yards out to give Sweet Water the 33-22 lead &8212; one they would hold in a death grip as both teams swapped blows on the way to the 46-36 final.

Maplesville drew first blood in the matchup off a seven play, 54-yard drive capped by a 35-yard throw and catch from Wilson to Brian Bailey. But the Sweet Water returned the favor and grabbed the momentum by milking the clock on two consecutive 12-play drives capped off by a 5-, then 3-yard touchdown run from Anthony Landrum, and then an 11-play drive, with Landrum finishing it off from 2-yards out.

Maplesville came back with 26 seconds to go to end the half and knocked the wind out of Sweet Water, when a bad kickoff was combined with production through the air. The Red Devils ended the half down 14-19, with a two play drive capped by a 38 yard pass from Wilson to Brian Frith.

In the second half, Sweet Water scored off a six play, 74-yard drive capped by another Landrum run &8212; this time from five yards out. Maplesville countered with a seven play, 70-yard drive capped by a Wilson quarterback keeper from 9-yards out.

Then the momentum busting play.

Three Maplesville plays later, Sweet Water again found the end zone. This time off quarterback pressure that caused Wilson to attempt a dump, but a Lockett tip, put the ball into the hands of Wes Burnett, who carried the ball all the way to the 3-yard line before being pulled sown by Wilson. But before going into that sweet night, Burnett had time to lateral the ball to Lockett, who escorted the ball from the 3-yard line to the end zone for another TD, making it 39-22.

Maplesville scored twice more &8212; off a 22-yard screen pass from Wilson to Drek Gardner and a 49-yard bomb down the sideline to Frith. And the Bulldogs put up a final defensive touchdown off a 55-yard interception return from Devin Wolf.

Next Thursday Sweet Water High School heads to Legion Field in Birmingham to vie for the state title against Talladega County Central in the Super 6.