The Bulldogs used their trademark rushing attack to roll up 408 yards on the ground behind their offensive line and spectacular performances by Kai Thomas and Caleb May. Thomas rushed for 213 yards on 13 carries with two touchdowns, as well as scoring a touchdown on a 95-yard punt return. May ended the night with 181 all-purpose yards, running for 104 yards with two touchdowns, while throwing for 79 yards and a touchdown. Deangelo Pendleton also had a great night, grabbing two passes for 79 yards and a touchdown, while returning a 97-yard kick return for a score.
Defensively, Cade Stone and Stonie Phillips led the team with 6 tackles, with Stone also recording a tackle for a loss. Joel Parrish racked up 4 tackles, two quarterback sacks and two tackles for a loss for the Bulldogs, as well as recovering two Childersburg fumbles.
“Childersburg took some aspects of our gameplan away from us early in the contest, but we told our kids to keep focused and that things would open up for us,” Dora coach Johnny Wright said. “The punt return by Kai to put us up by two scores helped get us back on track and the runs by both him and Caleb behind our offensive line kept the momentum in our favor. Childersburg is a young team who came ready to fight and they play in an extremely competitive region and you can tell it in what they bring into the contest. It’s a big win for us to come out victorious in this first round of the playoffs so we can shift our focus on round two.”
Dora didn’t waste an opportunity to score early in the opening quarter. On the initial series of the game, Parrish recovered a Tiger fumble, leading to a 6-play, 40-yard drive, as May found the endzone from 16 yards out — giving the Bulldogs the 7-0 lead.
Childersburg drove the ball on the following series before being forced to punt by a key stop by the Dora defense. On the punt, Thomas fielded the ball and eluded tackles for the 95-yard return to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to 14-0.
After stopping Childersburg on the ensuing series, May found Pendleton on a 76-yard touchdown strike to give Dora a 21-0 scoring edge.
Two injuries in the second quarter would force a one-hour delay while emergency medical personnel attended to the players. Neither team scored as play resumed, with Dora still in the lead at halftime, 21-0.
Dora received the kickoff to begin the third quarter and found the endzone after a 67-yard, 6-play drive, with Thomas scoring on a 19-yard run — pushing the Bulldogs’ lead to 28-0.
After holding the Tigers to a punt on the next series, Thomas would score his second rushing touchdown of the night on a 76-yard run, pulling Dora further ahead, 35-0.
Childersburg would score their first points of the game midway through the quarter on a 59-yard, 6-play drive to cut the lead to 35-7.
Dora answered with a 9-play, 71-yard drive, with DeMarcus Kirk scoring on a 1-yard run for a 42-7 edge.
May would scramble for 53 yards to begin the fourth quarter for his second rushing touchdown of the night, with the Bulldogs going up 49-14.
The Tigers would score on a 93-yard drive in the final minutes of the game to draw closer, 49-21. On the kickoff, Pendleton would electrify the home crowd on a 97-yard return for the Bulldogs’ final score of the night, giving Dora the 56-27 victory following one final touchdown by Childersburg in the last minute of play.
With the victory over the Tigers, Dora will host the Tallassee Tigers (9-2, 6-1) in second-round playoff action next Friday night. Tallassee edged Clarke County 17-14 in their playoff opener.
“Tallassee is a very well-coached team. Mike Battles has done a superb job there and we will have to play at our very best against them next week,” Wright said. “We’re thrilled to still be in the playoffs and we look forward to another great matchup.”