Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Special Teams Play Benefits Pike County in Win over Aliceville

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Special Teams Play Benefits Pike County in Win over Aliceville

Article excerpt

BRUNDIDGE | Thursday night playoff football is unusual, but the Pike County Bulldogs took it to another level in their Class 3A 14- 6 first-round victory over visiting Aliceville.

The opening kickoff produced points - for the kicking team - when Pike County's Eligha Lampley returned a fumble 23 yards for a stunning touchdown.

Special teams continued to play a huge role in the outcome. Deshon Cowling set up his own touchdown run with a 25-yard punt return to the Aliceville 20. Cowling capped that drive with a 12- yard touchdown run off left end in the second quarter.

On a field already saturated by rain, footing quickly deteriorated, and special teams and field position were crucial. Aliceville's first-half possessions began at its own 43, 19, 26, 1 and 1. The Yellow Jackets' three second-half drives started at their own 16, 10 and 12.

"Coach always tells us that special teams can win games and lose games. Today it happened to win a game because if it wasn't for the punt return ... you never know," Cowling said.

"We stress the importance of special teams. It happens to be something we take a lot of pride in," Pike County coach Fred Holland said. "We were fortunate enough to get ourselves in good field position -- and that always helps."

The kicking game was crucial from the first play. Cowling kicked off to Aliceville's Jamar Richardson, who caught the ball at the 16. Richardson broke one tackle and bounced off another around the 25.

The players were almost in a rugby-style scrum, but suddenly Lampley popped out the pile with the ball and headed for the goal line. Another pile of players stacked him up around the 10, but the pile kept moving and Lampley took it in for the touchdown.

"You never expect something like that to happen, but anything can happen in the playoffs," Cowling said. "I just want to thank little Eligha. He's a good player. He's always going after the ball. I think he just took it away from him and just kept on going."

Pike County's defensive front controlled the line of scrimmage for most of the game. Big defensive stops by Dalton Faulkner early and Anfernee Feagin late halted Aliceville drives. …

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