E.A. Sports Today

Wadley overruns Woodland

Bulldogs dominate county rival in season opener, 55-0

Wadley quarterback Connor Fordham (12) tries to escape the clutches of Woodland's Jordan Herring. (Photo by Christy Fordham)

Wadley quarterback Connor Fordham (12) tries to escape the clutches of Woodland’s Jordan Herring. (Photo by Christy Fordham)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

WADLEY — They give you four downs to move the chains and Wadley didn’t waste any of them Thursday night.

Connor Fordham threw two fourth-down touchdown passes in the first quarter and the defense held the opposition to negative net rushing yards in the game as Wadley swamped Woodland 55-0 in the season opener for both teams.

Both teams played close games in their jamborees last week, but this one was not close.

Wadley scored on offense, defense and special teams. The Bulldogs rushed for more than 300 yards and held Woodland to one first down and minus-31 yards of net rushing

Wadley coach Ken Fordham isn’t much of a fourth-down gambler with the offense – on special teams, maybe, but not the offense — but with the defense playing well and the weapons at his disposal that deep in Woodland territory he figured it was worth taking a shot.

Son Connor calmly threw fourth-down TD passes to Tyree Sheppard (14 yards) – after the Bulldogs had been pushed back from the 7 — and Rikishi Buchanan (27 yards) for a 16-0 lead eight minutes into the game. Trevor Cameron ran for two scores between Quae Drake’s 48-yard punt return touchdown before the first half ended.

“As a team, when you’re going back against a wall and you have to make play, that’s going to help us in the long run and make us a better team as a whole,” Connor said. “We actually practice that a lot. Its those kinds of situations that make us a better football team.”

“When we get down here and were going to go in to score, that’s his main goal. Were not going to try to put it through the uprights, we’re going to try to put it in the end zone.”

Woodland coach Randy Boyd knew how demoralizing the two fourth-down scores were for his team. “I could just see it in their eyes,” he said.

The Bulldogs didn’t go for it much on fourth down at the beginning of last season, but once they proved to themselves they could make plays they loosened things up a bit.

And they came out firing Thursday, which was a bit of a departure for a coach who admits he plays it “close to the vest.” The touchdown throws were the only two passes the Bulldogs completed but they increased their attempts in each of their first three possessions. They threw six passes in the first quarter, seven in the first half and none after that with a 35-0 halftime lead.

The reason they’re willing to open it up a little pretty simple. They have players with height on the edges and another who can run 4.3 on the wing.

Woodland’s only first down of the game came on its most productive play – a 66-yard pass from Jade Burge to Elijah Phillips early in the second quarter. The play got the Bobcats to the 2, but they got nothing out of it as Drake broke up their fourth-down pass in the end zone.

“That (shutout) lets us know we’re doing what were supposed to do defensively – we’re performing,” Ken Fordham said. “That’s what football’s about. That’s what football in the South is about. I don’t know what it is anywhere else, but that’s (what it’s about) in the South.”

The Bobcats were missing two key players in the game and just as they seemed poised to get them back, two more may take their place on the DL Thursday. By the middle of the second quarter they were into their third quarterback of the season, an eighth-grader.

They expect to have projected Opening Day starting quarterback Jake Lovvorn back for non-contract practice this week and are shooting for a return against Ranburne in two weeks. They’re also anticipating the return of Caleb Parker.

But Thursday night they may have lost Burge, who hadn’t played quarterback before the jamboree, and Jordan Herring for portions of the game.

“It’s one of those years … when it rains it pours,” Boyd said. “We’ve just got to keep on. It’s a part of life. Things in life are not always going to go great and football is a great opportunity to learn about life. We’re learning life lessons right now. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We just have to continue to keep working. We keep working good things are bound to happen.”

Woodland 0 0 0 0 — 0
Wadley 23 12 13 7 — 55

Wad – Tyrese Sheppard 14 pass from Connor Fordham (Fordham run), 7:43 1Q
Wad – Rikishi Buchanan 27 pass from Fordham (Wesley Caldwell pass from Fordham), 4:28 1Q
Wad – Trevor Cameron 28 run (Coby Nunn kick), 0:41 1Q
Wad – Quay Drake 48 punt return (kick blocked), 10:44 2Q
Wad – Cameron 26 run (kick failed), 0:37 2Q
Wad – Fordham 3 run (Elijah Beverly kick), 7:42 3Q
Wad – Dalton Brown 25 run (kick failed), 0:01 3Q
Wad – Sebastian Owens fumble recovery in end zone (Beverly kick), 10:46 4Q

Team stats Wood Wad
First downs 1 14
Rushes-yds 29-(-31) 35-314
Comp-Att-Int 1-2-0 2-7-0
Passing yds 66 41
Fumbles-lost 3-2 3-2
Punts-avg 7-26.1 0-0
Penalties-yds 5-25 1-5

Woodland coach Randy Boyd talks to his players during a time out in the first half of Thursday's game.

Woodland coach Randy Boyd talks to his players during a time out in the first half of Thursday’s game.

Thursday’s scoreboard
Class 7A

Lee-Montgomery 51, Park Crossing 44
Class 6A
Chilton County 56, Jemison 14
Decatur 42, Huntsville 20
Jackson-Olin 38, Central-Tuscaloosa 7
Saraland 27, LeFlore 22
Southside-Gadsden 44, Hokes Bluff 29
Class 5A
Jackson 33, Clarke County 14
Wenonah 48, Midfield 0
Class 4A
Dadeville 49, Reeltown 21
West Limestone 36, East Limestone 21
Class 3A
Fultondale 46, Tarrant 7
Mobile Christian 49, Lighthouse Christian, FL 6
Vinemont 14, Good Hope 7
Washington County 35, Millry 0
West Morgan 42, Priceville 21
Class 2A
Cleveland 44, Southeastern 0
West End 65, Susan Moore 42
Class 1A­­­
Chattooga, GA 49, Cedar Bluff 7
Wadley 55, Woodland 0
Woodville 53, Asbury 0

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