Wildcats dominate Bulldogs in region openerPublished 10:29am Monday, September 9, 2013
By Jim Plott
Special to the Outlook
Benjamin Russell played the first 12 minutes of Friday’s region opener against Marbury with a small chip on their shoulder en route to a 56-14 victory.
“Last week I thought we played well at times, we just didn’t finish the game,” said Wildcats coach Danny Horn of his squad’s loss to 6A Opelika. “Tonight we finished the game. We kind of out-played them.”
It didn’t take long for the Wildcats (1-1, 1-0 in region) to put points on the board, 28 of them to be exact, in the first quarter.
The Wildcats, ranked No. 7 in the most recent Alabama Sports Writer’s poll, spent the first three plays of Marbury’s opening possession in the Bulldogs’ backfield, capping the stymied drive with a blocked punt.
The Wildcats recovered it and used a one-yard Bryant Horn surge on fourth down to push ahead 6-0.
Collin Sharpe, Benjamin Russell’s senior placekicker split the uprights on the first of eight successful point-after conversions to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead.
That lead doubled when the Wildcats defense swarmed Marbury’s Kevin Wilkes, (in for the injured Blake Davies at quarterback) forcing a turnover.
LaBrenikin Johnson capped the drive with a 4-yard plunge into the end zone. With the point after, the Wildcats were up 14-0.
The Bulldogs began to show flashes of the success on the ensuing drive until Wilkes’ pass to Colton Thomas was tipped up into the hands of the defending Horn, who returned it 37-yards for the touchdown with 5:44 left in the opening period.
The Wildcats closed out the first quarter’s scoring with a 15-yard pass and catch to Quin Johnson. Johnson slipped by a defender and tighroped the sideline into the end zone for the score.
“Even when you’re getting your brains beat out, you can still find some positives,” said James Strickland, coach of the Bulldogs.
The positives proved to be a way to attack the Wildcats’ defense: Run it straight into the belly of the beast.
With Colton Thomas lined up as a running back, he took the snap and run it straight ahead.
Marbury was able to gain field position on Benjamin Russell, but their drive still ended with a punt.
Horn hit LaJarret Ford down the middle of the field, only to have it negated by a holding call.
The Wildcats were forced to punt and downed the ball inside the Marbury five.
On the second play from scrimmage, Eric Varner stuck his helmet in Thomas’s side, separating him from the ball.
JaAnthony Russell lept over the heap of Varner and Thomas to recover the ball in the end zone for the score.
Sharpe’s kick pushed the tally to 35-0 with 3:14 left in the half.
Thomas had his revenge though.
He fielded Sharpe’s kickoff at the 8 yard line and didn’t stop running.
The senior carried the kick 92 yards to the house for the first Marbury touchdown of the night.
The momentum didn’t stay in the blue long.
Tabias Russell broke free on a 3-yard run with 39 ticks left on the clock, which put Benjamin Russell ahead 42-7 at intermission.
Benjamin Russell struck first in the second half.
Quinton Sutton broke free on a 30-yard sprint to the end zone at the 7:44 mark for the third stanza’s only high note.
In the final frame of the game, Gregory Jackson connected with Kenan Strong on a 33-yard scoring pass.
Marbury added the night’s final score when Thomas caught a 28-yard pass with :20 seconds left in the game.
Benjamin Russell will host Booker T. Washington next week.