BY Zach Adams
FULTON – New Albany coach Ron Price and his Bulldogs led the Itawamba AHS Indians 10-7 with less than a minute to play last Friday night. Unfortunately for the visiting team, a game that saw very few big offensive plays was capped off by one when IAHS sophomore quarterback Vijay Miller hit receiver on a crossing pattern to the Bulldog 9. On the next play, sophomore Hunter White burst into the end zone with 28 seconds remaining to cap the comeback and deliver the Indians the 14-10 victory.
“The thing that makes me proud tonight is that our kids competed for 48 minutes,” New Albany coach Ron Price said. “Both teams tonight had a chance to win. Itawamba just happened to make one more play than we did.”
After a sloppy and scoreless first quarter that included four total punts, a turnover and six penalties, IAHS (1-1) struck first in the second when White capped off a 45-yard drive with a 1-yard run.
Later in the period, the Bulldogs (0-2) took advantage of a fumble recovery by Chris Brown in Indian territory. Eathen Rainey hit a 40-yard field goal to cut the lead and go into the half trailing 7-3.
In total, there were six turnovers in the first half. IAHS lost three fumbles recovered by Bryce Collins, Jake McDonald and Brown, while Jarel Lipsey also picked off Miller late. New Albany fumbled twice with Foster McNeece and Luke Douglas recovering. The offenses were almost completely ineffective as the turnovers and penalties, along with struggling line play, made the game an ugly affair at the break.
After fumbling in its first possession of the second half, New Albany got embarked on an 80-yard, 13-play drive powered by a 35-yard Devin Wilson run. Facing third-and-goal at the 3, Collins took it in on a quarterback keeper for the go-ahead score with 1:03 left in the third.
The final countdown
After trading blows in the fourth, IAHS began a drive at its own 24 with 3:15 to play. Following a short run and a sack, the Bulldogs had the Indians backed up to their own 16 in a third-and-18 situation. Miller looked for Green deep down the left sideline, but a pass interference penalty cut the yardage needed down to three. Another incompletion led to a fourth down play with 1:44 remaining. A quick run converted the crucial first down for the Indians and set up the final sequence that saw Miller find Green streaking across the middle of the field for the play of the game with less than a minute to play.
“I can walk off the field tonight very disappointed that we lost, but I’m very proud that our team took a step in the right direction as being a competitive football team at the 4A level,” Price said.
IAHS finished the contest with 177 total yards to New Albany’s 151. Miller completed 6 of 16 passes for 88 yards.