NEW ALBANY – It was quite the track meet in the first quarter between the Booneville Blue Devils and the New Albany Bulldogs, but it was just a matter of survival at the end.
The Blue Devils were the ones to stagger across the finish line first Friday, claiming a 41-34 victory in the season opener for both squads.
“The defense played about as bad as they could, and we have a lot of mistakes to correct,” said veteran Booneville coach Jim Drewry, who kicked off his 50th season on the sidelines. “Offensively, we made some big plays.
“People say the biggest improvement comes from the first to the second game, and that is what we’ve got to do – improve.”
Booneville need not improve too much on offense, putting up 20 first-quarter points. But the catch was that New Albany put up an equal amount in the same time frame.
The 60-point quarter began on the third play from scrimmage as Booneville quarterback Jeiron Jones connected with Drew Cristo for a 71-yard touchdown. The Devils then added 58-yard run by Bo Brown, and an 85-yard kickoff return by Brendon Powell.
In the meantime, New Albany matched that offensive output, beginning with a 37-yard pass from Tyler Basil to Taylor Goode on the Bulldogs second play from scrimmage for the score. New Albany then followed with a 1-yard sneak by Basil, and a 6-yard option keeper by Basil.
Fortunately for the players and the scoreboard, the paced slowed after that.
Booneville grabbed the lead in the second quarter on a 6-yard scamper by Jones. Then New Albany tied the contest just before halftime on a 9-yard pass to Goode.
The third quarter was scoreless, but on the first play of the fourth period, Booneville scored on a 2-yard burst by Brown. The Devils then appeared to ice the contest with a nice defensive play by Brown as the senior ripped the ball away from a Bulldog, racing 60 yards for the score and a 41-27 lead with 2 minutes, 17 seconds to play.
But to the Bulldogs’ credit, they responded with a 70-yard pass from Basil to Goode, then a 1-yard sneak by Basil to close within 41-34 with 1:58 left.
New Albany got the ball back, and on its first play moved into Booneville territory. But two Blue Devil sacks closed out the contest.
“Our guys played 100 percent of the game,” New Albany coach Ron Price said. “I was proud we didn’t give up.”
In the losing effort, Basil threw for 351 yards. Booneville got nice games from Jones – 179 yards through the air – and Brown – 115 yards rushing.
David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal