Bulldogs topple Tigers in exhibition
The starters produced a pair of four-yard touchdown runs in the third quarter and left the rest up to the reserves as Sweet Water outpaced Demopolis 14-6 in a preseason Jamboree Friday.
The Bulldogs struck first with 3:02 in the third period when quarterback Brett Davis scored on a four-yard keeper up the middle. Taylor Wilson added the extra point to stretch the lead to 7-0. The run capped a 12-play, 71-yard drive that ate up most of the third quarter clock.
Not to be outdone, Demopolis fired back on the ensuing possession. Quarterback Ben Pettus opened up the possession with an 11-yard strike to Logan Holley. Pettus then found Darius Stewart and Rodney Harper on pass plays sandwiched around an option keeper. That trio of downs moved the sticks and gave the Tigers a fresh start. Two plays later Demopolis turned to its stalwart running back, DaMarcus James.
The 2009 Class 5A Back of the Year broke off a 31-yard run down to the Sweet Water 11. He then finished the drive himself with consecutive carries of seven and four yards respectively to get DHS on the board. The Tigers failed to convert the extra point opportunity, leaving the score at 7-6.
Once the two squads pulled their starters, Sweet Water’s second team went to work, getting a 62-yard touchdown run from Deon Watters. The Wilson kick gave the Bulldogs the 14-6 advantage.
Demopolis appeared poised to fire back when Tucker Jones broke a 44-yard run all the way down to the Sweet Water 12 before junior Linc Luker rushed in for the touchdown-saving tackle. The stop proved to be huge as the Tigers fumbled the ball on the very next play. Sweet Water’s Ty Morgan recovered the mishap to all but ice the game for the Bulldogs.
The back-and-forth second half followed a less evenly matched first half. Sweet Water moved 39 yards on eight plays in the opening possession of the game only to watch the drive stall at the Demopolis 30 when Lavaughn Terry brought down Terrence Sewell. The Sweet Water junior redeemed himself one play later when he recovered a fumble after Pettus had hooked up with James Wilson on a 36-yard pass play. The Bulldogs did not threaten again before the half, amassing only 85 yards of offense before the break.
Conversely, Demopolis moved the ball effectively but struggled with penalties. The Tigers gained 213 yards in the first half but were penalized eight times for 60 yards in the first two frames.
“Demopolis helped us out,” Sweet Water head coach Stacy Luker said. “They shot themselves in the foot with some early penalties.”
“We’ve got to cut back on mistakes,” Demopolis head coach Tom Causey said. “A lot of our mistakes are first team mistakes. Our effort was really good. I’m proud of our effort. We’ll get better.”
Despite its struggles, Demopolis saw some flashes out of Pettus. The senior went 7-for-9 for 90 yards through the air and showed a willingness to run it himself as he tallied 44 yards on five carries. Demopolis also got its usual contributions from James, who carried the ball 20 times for 134 yards in the game. But it was the defensive side of the ball where Causey felt he learned the most.
“I was really proud of some of our new starters on defense,” Causey said. “Dantrayle Wheeler played very well. We’ve just got to get used to playing all four quarters.”
Demopolis opens its regular season next Friday on the road against perennial Class 5A power Briarwood Christian. Sweet Water will head down to face local rival and Class 4A power Thomasville. Luker said such daunting opponents have not seemed to bother his team to this point.
“When you are the defending state champions and you are used to being there like we are, you are not fazed by who you play and where you play,” Luker said. “I think that is the biggest thing that helps us right now.”