The Bulldogs silenced critics and gave fans something to look forward to, as they defeated Tupelo, 24-14, at Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium last Saturday.
In their final tune up before the new season, New Albany showed poise and did not back down against their 6A opponent.
“It was a big win for our guys.,” NAHS head coach Ron Price said. “We’ve been in a long three week period of just hitting on each other, and it was exciting to get out on the field and see another opponent out there.”
Tupelo scored on their opening possession, but New Albany responded with a six minute drive capped by a field goal from Sam Jackson Dunnam. The Bulldogs took their first lead later in the half on a touchdown from Tyler Basil to Josh Creekmore.
“From that point forward we held the momentum,” Price said. “Our offense was clicking and the defense improved throughout the day. I felt that our guys conditioning and effort were good, and thankfully we were able to pull out a win.”
Tupelo opened the second with another touchdown only to fall behind in the next series after Basil found Taylor Goode, taking the 17-14 lead.
New Albany’s defense came through in the clutch, creating back-to-back turnovers with the ‘Dawgs scoring once more on a Basil to Josh Hardin touchdown.
“We feel like we’re better defensively this year,” Price said. “Our guys are hustling to the ball and putting forth a lot more effort this year. They forced a couple turnovers that were big plays that put us in great field position. Once we get everyone where they need to be, I think our defense will be a good unit for us this year.”
Basil finished with three touchdowns in the win, and credits the offensive line for their success against the Golden Wave.
“It starts with the offensive line,” he said. “They did a good job protecting and everything, and the receivers did a good job catching the ball. The running backs did a good job finding the holes, and I threw the ball where it needed to be. We did really good, and we’re just going to keep working to do that.”
The Bulldogs took in the win, as they were excited about the opportunity to play at Ole Miss.
“Just the atmosphere was amazing. The only thing that could have been better was if it was packed out,” Basil said. “Just being able to play on an SEC field, division one school was great. I can’t describe the feeling.”
“I’ve always come to the Ole Miss games, and I’ve always wanted to play on this field,” senior linebacker Zach Hand said. “The only time I’ve been on the field was when we came here for football camps, so it’s been a great experience. We really enjoyed it and I think we improved playing here today.”
Hand best summed up the experience, as the Bulldogs now prepare for Booneville.
“They were supposed to run over us; everyone thought they would. We’ve been practicing hard for three and a half weeks, and I think it showed today.”