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Bulldogs Come From Behind To Defeat #2 Appling Co.

Bulldogs Come From Behind  To Defeat #2 Appling Co.
Braylen Dietrich was the hero of Friday night’s game against Appling County with three field goals, including the game winner as time was running out.Photo by TCHS
Bulldogs Come From Behind  To Defeat #2 Appling Co.
Braylen Dietrich was the hero of Friday night’s game against Appling County with three field goals, including the game winner as time was running out.Photo by TCHS

Courtesy of TCHS

On Friday night, the Toombs County High School Bulldogs football team strolled into Jimmy Swain Stadium in Baxley, home of the mighty Appling County Pirates. Toombs came into the game as the #8 ranked team in the state with Appling sitting at either #1 or #2, depending on the poll you looked at. It was a huge game with big Region implications, and the Bulldogs were up to the task. With some last minute heroics from kicker Braylen Dietrich, the Bulldogs pulled off the upset over the Pirates. The win moves Toombs to 7-0 and vaults them into the top 3 in the state rankings.

In front of a capacity crowd, the Bulldogs shined early. On the opening kickoff, a Pirate returner seemed to fumble the ball. Toombs recovered and scored, but the play was ruled down at the Pirate 16-yard line.

After a Pirate punt, Toombs took over on their own 38. On the second play from scrimmage, Appling intercepted a batted pass and returned it to the Bulldog 22-yard line. Four plays later, Pirate Senior Quarterback Dayson Griffis took a 3-yard run into the end zone for a 7-0 Pirate lead with 5:39 remaining in the 1st quarter.

Toombs County answered with a 12play drive that covered 69 yards, capped by a 31-yard scoring run by Junior Quarterback TJ Stanley. Braylen Dietrich tapped in the point after to even the score at 7 with 11:52 remaining in the first half.

On the next Pirate drive, they moved to the Toombs 34 before the Red Bullet defense locked down on a 4th and 8, giving the Dogs the ball back with 8:43 remaining in the half. Two plays later, Stanley and Junior LaGonza Heyward connected on a 66-yard scoring pass to give Toombs a 14-7 lead.

After forcing another Pirate punt, the continued from page

Dogs marched back down the field on some long runs by Stanley, but the drive stalled at the Pirate 15-yard line. Dietrich drilled a 32yard field goal, giving the Dogs a 17-7 lead with 2:56 remaining in the half.

On the next Pirate drive, Senior Keshon Deloach intercepted a Griffis pass, and the Dogs headed into the locker room up 17-7 at the half.

On the opening drive in the second half, the Dogs drove down the field but stalled at the Appling 1-yard line after the Pirates held tough on a goal-line stand. Dietrich kicked a 24-yard field goal to extend the Toombs lead to 20-7 with 4:25 remaining in the third quarter.

Appling switched to a single wing in the second half and challenged the Red Bullet defense. Six plays later, the Pirates scored on a 25-yard run, cutting the lead to 20-14. The Dogs moved the ball 68 yards on 5 plays before a Pirate defender intercepted a pass in the end zone and returned it to the Appling 19-yard line.

The Pirates covered 81 yards on 11 plays to score a touchdown, regaining the lead, 21-20, with 5:29 remaining in the game. The Dogs punted on their next drive, and the Pirates capitalized, scoring on a 64yard touchdown run to lead 28-20 with 3:23 remaining.

The Dogs showcased their resilience, moving down the field and converting on a 4th down play that covered 34 yards from Stanley to Gavin Fletcher. Facing another 4th down at the Pirate 16-yard line with 56 seconds left, Stanley found Fletcher in the end zone. Despite tight coverage, Fletcher secured the game-changing touchdown. Stanley and Deloach connected for the 2-point conversion, tying the game at 28-28.

On the kickoff, a Pirate returner muffed the return, and Toombs County recovered. Stanley ran one play for 7 yards and ran the clock down to 8 seconds. Dietrich lined up for a 32yard game-winning attempt. The Pirates tried to ice him with two timeouts. Undeterred, Dietrich made the field goal, giving the Dogs a, 31-28, lead.

The Dogs clinched the road win, moving to 7-0 for the first time since 1995 and 3-0 in Region 3AA, holding first place. The victory over #2 Appling County is the highestranked win in the program’s history.

It is another huge week for the Bulldogs as #4 ranked Pierce County will visit The Pit this Friday, with a Region Title possibly at stake. This also shows just how tough Region 3AA is, with three teams ranked in the top 5 in the state. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m., and the Bulldogs need their fans to pack The Pit.

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