The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Sports

November 21, 2011

Bulldogs top Lakewood for sectional title

Monday, November 21, 2011 — Friday night’s sectional finals game between visiting Lakewood and host Albemarle could not have started better for the visiting Leopards, who jumped out to a quick lead after a fake punt didn’t work for the Bulldogs.

Albemarle’s Oak Tree defense, first designed  years ago by former coach Dave Bright, continued a long tradition of excellence by creating three turnovers and allowing one late touchdown in a 45-14 win over Lakewood.

After trailing early, the Albemarle (13-1) defense staged a goal-line stand as well as cashing in on a special-team mistake by Lakewood (8-5).

The Bulldogs took the opening kickoff and tried a fake punt on fourth down that did not work, giving Lakewood the ball on the Albemarle 36.

After a long pass from starting quarterback J.J. Tanners to Issiah Sellers down to the five-yard line, the Leopards punched the ball in with a two-yard run  from Nikin Henry. David Rivera’s extra point was wide right and the score stayed 6-0.

Albemarle immediately responded when quarterback Deon Christian found senior wideout Desi Dockery down the left sideline. After reeling the catch in, Dockery put a spin move on two Leopard defenders and sprinted down the field for the touchdown.

Lakewood threatened late in the first quarter to take the lead back with another long bomb to Sellers, who got behind the Bulldog secondary and hauled the pass in for a 67-yard gain.

On second and goal from the two-yard line, Henry ran to the right side and was hit hard by the Albemarle defensive line, knocking the ball loose and the Bulldogs recovered.

In the second quarter, the Oak Tree came up with a big interception when Freddie Parker picked off a short pass over the middle and returned it to the Leopard 34-yard line.

Two plays later, Christian put on some nifty moves in scrambling around the right side of the Lakewood line, leaping several Leopards at the goal line for a 35-yard touchdown.

On the next Lakewood drive, the Leopards ran a reverse halfback pass for a touchdown that was called back on an illegal procedure penalty.

Albemarle’s special teams made a big play late in the first half on a high, short punt by Lakewood punter Wesley Sessoms. The coverage team overran the ball, and Jay Dockery made a heads-up play to grab the bouncing ball and return it 44 yards for a touchdown and a 21-6 Bulldogs lead at halftime.

Early in the third quarter, the Bulldogs took advantage of a bad punt snap over the head of Sessoms. The ball rolled 38 yards into the endzone, where Mikey Patterson fell on the ball for an Albemarle touchdown.

Albemarle’s offense then put together a nine-play, 53-yard touchdown drive that took 3:30 off the clock midway through the third quarter. Daquan Ellis, who would finish with 149 yards on the night, 40 of which coming on this scoring drive, including a three-yard touchdown run over the left side of the line.

Tanner then threw his second interception of the game as Dockery came from across the field and made a diving pick on a tipped pass.

Albemarle then drove the ball down to the Lakewood eight-yard line, where Julio Cisneros delivered a 28-yard field goal just seconds into the fourth quarter.

Minutes later, Lakewood offensive lineman Austin Tanner was carried off on a stretcher due to a possible head injury, causing a 15-minute delay in the ball game.

Backup quarterback Issiah Sellers then helped lead the Leopards on a six-play, 53-yard drive capped off by a 14-yard touchdown pass from Sellers to Tony Smith. Sellers then ran in the two-point conversion to make it 38-14.

Albemarle got one last touchdown when Ellis ran to the left side of the field and went 74 yards for his second touchdown of the night.

The game ran with a continuous clock from the eight-minute mark on and Albemarle secured the win.

“In the second half, we had a better mind set; we played harder and more physical,” Albemarle Head Coach Danny Akins said.

The Bulldog coach talked about the special teams’ efforts, saying that they put a lot of effort into special teams and got some breaks.

Regarding Dockery’s return, Coach Akins said, “We had several big plays tonight and Jay’s was one of them. He’s an exciting young athlete and he played well for us.”

Albemarle will host the Murphy Bulldogs this Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. Murphy advanced with a 56-13 win over Smoky Mountain Conference rival Andrews.

“Murphy is well-coached; they have run their schemes on offense and defense for years. They have a lot of tradition; they play for a state title year in and year out. We have to work hard this week to get ready for it.”

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