Sweet Water thwarts Maplesville comeback bid

Bulldogs Trae Pritchett #14 and Trayun Jones #48 strip the ball from Maplesville’s QB Colby Chambers. (Photo courtesy of Johnny Autery)

SWEET WATER – A 27-yard field goal that capped a classic fourth quarter drive gave Sweet Water High School’s Bulldogs a thrilling 17-14 win over visiting Maplesville at Nolan Atkins Field Friday night.

In a battle worthy of the two storied Class 1A programs, Sweet Water watched an early 14-0 lead evaporate before beginning the time-consuming 70-yard march with 9:33 to play in the game. The crucial play in the game-winning drive came on third-and-eight at the Maplesville 42, when Bulldog back Jamal White broke outside and scampered 28 yards to the Red Devil 14. After the drive stalled, SWHS’ Taylor Wilson booted the 27-yard field goal to break the 14-14 deadlock.

Maplesville refused to die, however, and began its own march toward a potential game-winning score. The Red Devils converted two fourth downs along the way, but Sweet Water’s Daniel Sewell came up with the defensive play of the game, an interception on a fade route at the Bulldog three-yard line with 12 seconds to play.

“This was just a great game between two great football teams,” said Sweet Water head coach Stacy Luker. “This is a game that will make both teams better. I think you’ll see both of us at the end of the year making some noise.”

Of the game-winning drive, Luker said, “We’d had some success on offense (early in the game), and I think our offensive line started taking control of the line, and our backs ran hard on that last drive.”

Indeed, in the game’s opening moments Sweet Water seemed to move the ball at will, jumping out to a 14-0 lead on touchdown runs of four and 27 yards by Jakoby Aldridge. Wilson’s extra points gave the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead before Maplesville got its offense on track and responded with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Colby Chambers to Damian Mitchell midway through the second period.

After the half, Maplesville knotted the score on another touchdown pass – this one covering 72 yards from Chambers to Kelvin Hall.

The teams then traded possessions before Sweet Water took over at its own 15 and used 15 plays to march 70 yards, setting up Wilson’s game-winning field goal.

The non-region win improves Sweet Water’s record to 4-1 on the year.

The Bulldogs also won the statistical battle, outgaining Maplesville 276 yards to 241. Sweet Water’s defense allowed only 49 of those 241 yards on the ground.

“We felt like our defensive line could control the line of scrimmage,” said Luker, “and at the half we said we wanted to make them one-dimensional. They made some big plays on us, but our defense came up big when it had to.”

For Sweet Water, fullback Deion Watters carried the load, gaining 106 yards on 17 carries. Aldridge added 73 yards on 21 attempts, and White pitched in with 41 yards on only two carries, including the critical third-down conversion rush of 28 yards on the final drive.

The Bulldogs travel to Flomaton Friday night.