Central High School entered Friday with the hopes of avenging last season's one-sided loss to Opelika High School.
Bulldogs running back Reggie Hall made sure that didn't happen. The senior running back scored four touchdowns -- three rushing and one receiving -- to lift Opelika to a 36-20 victory over the hosts from Central.
Red Devils head coach Woodrow Lowe was visibly irritated with his team after the game, taking only three short questions before heading off the field.
"We were outclassed from beginning to end tonight," he said, with the defeat dropping the Red Devils' record to 1-2 and 0-2 in Region 3 play. "Opelika played well and they deserved to win."
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Hall's performance overshadowed the game effort of the Red Devils' Traveon Samuel. The junior running back scored all three of Central's touchdown in the losing effort. The offense's play was the only positive Lowe could find in the loss.
"They got experience from this," he said. "I'm happy we were able to establish some rhythm on a few drives and I think it will help us moving forward."
The defense didn't escape Lowe's wrath, however.
"I was thoroughly disappointed with their play," he said. "I'll leave it at that."
The Red Devils attempted a furious rally in the final stanza. After neither team scored in the third quarter, Central was facing a 29-6 deficit heading with 12 minutes to play. After a 28-yard punt gave Red Devils the ball at the Bulldogs' 41-yard line, the hosts wasted no time cutting into the lead. On the first play of the drive, Samuel scooted 28 yards down to the 13-yard line. Four plays later, he ended the drive, taking the snap himself and punching it in from two yards out.
It was one of the more impressive 2-yard touchdown runs you'd ever see, as the sensational junior had to make three efforts (and break three tackles) to get the ball across in before it finally stuck. The Red Devils followed it up with a successful two-point conversion, as quarterback Zion Webb found Dakota Pittman open on the right side of the end zone to push the score to 29-14 in Opelika's favor with 9:55 to play.
The Bulldogs (3-0, 2-0) immediately responded, scoring on a 10-play, 59-yard drive. And who else would finish it off than the player of the game, Hall. The senior took a handoff at the 21-yard line and made one cut to the outside, juking a Red Devil defender inside the 5-yard line for his fourth and final touchdown of the game.
Central -- and Samuel specifically -- fired one last salvo on the very next play. Samuel received the kickoff and dashed 79 yards up the left sideline for the final score of the game. Kicker Cameron Herring's dismal night continued, as he then missed his second extra point of the game. Despite Samuel's doing everything he could, it wasn't enough to stop the Bulldogs from taking their second consecutive win in the series.
The Bulldogs got off to a quick start, scoring on their second play from scrimmage, as Hall scored on a 78-yard touchdown at the 11:19 mark of the opening quarter. That score gave the visitors a lead they would never relinquish. The only thing that went wrong was on an ensuing trick play on the extra point. The Bulldogs flipped a shuffle pass to Kyle Fourtenbary which was stopped at the 1-yard line.
Less than four minutes later, they found the end zone once more. Senior running back Jarquavious Crawford took a direct snap at the 22-yard line and rumbled in for a touchdown from there. This time, the Red Devils didn't elect to get creative on the extra-point, as they let sophomore placekicker put it through the uprights to extend their lead to 13-0 with 7:40 remaining in the first quarter.
Central got on the board on the first play of the second quarter. Facing fourth-and-one from the 12-yard line, Samuel did the rest of the work himself, exploding up the middle for his first touchdown. The ensuing extra point was no good, as Herring's attempt hit the left upright and fell to the ground.
After alternating empty possessions, Opelika's offense got back to work with 7:25 to go before halftime Taking advantage of a woeful six-yard punt by Central that gave the Bulldogs the ball only 46 yards away from the end zone, it took the visitors less than two minutes to hit paydirt once more. And once more, it was Hall who put the possession, scoring from three yards out at the 5:30 mark of the second period to extend the lead to 19-6.
Friday at Garrett-Harrison StadiumOpelika 13 16 0 7--36
Central 0 6 0 14--20First Quarter
OHS- Reggie Hall 78 run (Kyle Fourtenbary run, two-point conversion no good), 11:19
OHS- Jarquavious Crawford 17 run (Jack Slay kick), 7:40
CHS- Traveon Samuel 12 run (Cameron Herring kick missed), 11:48
OHS- Hall 3 run (Gage Young run, two-point conversion no good), 5:30
OHS- Chazden Blackmon 24 kick, 1:11
OHS- Hall 38 pass from Matthew Christian (Slay kick), 50.8
CHS- Samuel 2 run (Dakota Pittman from Zion Webb, two-point conversion), 9:55
OHS- Hall 21 run (Slay kick), 4:33
CHS- Samuel 79 kick return (Herring kick missed), 4:21
Records: Opelika 3-0, 2-0 Class 6A Region 3. Central 1-2, 0-2. Next: Central, home vs. R.E. Lee, Friday, 8 p.m.