New Albany Bulldogs thwarted at home

By Jay Tidwell
Special to the Journal

NEW ALBANY – Water Valley had its coach feeling good through the first half.

A remarkable pair of plays to open the second half had him feeling great.

The Blue Devils scored 31 unanswered points and knocked off New Albany 38-13 on Friday in the season-opener for both teams.

A 57-yard kickoff return by Robert Mays to start the third quarter set up a 28-yard sprint by Elijah Rogers that gave the Class 3A team a comfortable 28-7 lead. New Albany was unable to respond.

“I thought it was back and forth early,” said Water Valley coach Brad Embry. “We made a couple of plays and momentum built.

“I felt good at halftime, but great early in the third quarter. We had a big play.”

The Blue Devils also got a strong effort from senior quarterback E.J. Bounds, who completed 7 of 11 for 145 yards with no interceptions and three TDs.

New Albany had tied it at 7-all early in the first on a 73-yard catch and run by Jimmy Baldon from Bryce Collins. The Bulldogs (0-1) also got a 4-yard scoring run from Devin Wilson in the final minute of the fourth.

In between, New Albany couldn’t regroup against the Blue Devils (1-0), committing four turnovers.

‘Nobody showed up’
“We came out in the second half, and offensively, defensively and in special teams, nobody showed up,” said New Albany coach Ron Price, whose squad won the Div. 2-4A title last season. “We’ve got to put people on the field that want to compete.”

A fumble recovery by Montez Hairston at New Albany’s 12 led to a 26-yard field goal by Alex Robles with 3:35 in the third.

After forcing a three-and-out on the following series, Bounds completed a 28-yard score to Derrick Gooch with 10:28 in the fourth to solidify Water Valley’s lead.

“We came out the first half and were on all cylinders,” said Wilson, a junior. “Then in the second half we basically started dragging around.”

On the opening series, Water Valley forced a turnover on downs at its 10, then drove the length of the field. Bounds completed an 8-yard pass to James Washington with 5:31 in the first to open scoring.