In Friday night’s second-round playoff matchup with Tallassee, however, the key play of the game came not from an offensive star, but from the Bulldog defense on a critical goal line stop, to defeat the Tigers 41-40 in overtime at Horace Roberts Field in Dora.
Dora’s offense held the overall edge in the contest, outgaining Tallassee 341-312 yards, with 224 yards coming on the ground. But the defense came through in clutch moments during the contest — stopping drives by forcing three turnovers and holding the Tigers’ passing attack to just 67 yards.
May led the offensive effort with 214 yards of offense and three total touchdowns. He completed 7 of 13 passes for 125 yards, while carrying the ball 9 times for 89 yards. Thomas led the Dora rushers with 100 yards on 18 carries with two touchdowns.
Cade Stone recorded 10 tackles, a tackle for a loss and forced a fumble to lead the Bulldog defense, while Charles Clay contributed with 8 tackles and a tackle for a loss.
“When you have a battle like we did tonight, there’s a play that you look for that will win the game and we were fortunate that we were the ones who made it,” Dora coach Johnny Wright said. “We had a hard time stopping Tallassee throughout the evening and you have to give their offensive line and running backs a lot of credit. But our kids put forth a tremendous effort to come from behind. Even though I don’t like to give up 40 points in a game, in the playoffs, it’s all about getting the win and moving on. We’re very happy to advance to the third round and we’re looking forward to our trip to Troy.”
With the win, Dora (11-1) enters the third round of postseason play for the first time since 2006. They will travel to Troy next Friday for a showdown with the Charles Henderson Trojans (9-3) at Memorial Stadium. The Trojans defeated No. 5 Central Clay County on Thursday night, 13-0.
On Friday, Tallassee drove 50 yards on 13 plays to put the first points of the game on the scoreboard, establishing a 7-0 lead in the opening quarter.
The Bulldogs answered early in the second quarter on a 9-play, 57-yard drive, with May connecting with Devonta Gosha on a 10-yard strike. After missing the extra point kick, Dora cut the lead to 7-6.
The Tigers responded with a 49-yard, 4-play drive to extend their lead to 14-6.
Dora tied the game 14-14 on the ensuing series with a 67-yard run by May, followed by May hitting Thomas for the 2-point conversion.
Tallassee would retake the lead before halftime on a 6-play, 65-yard drive, but Dora’s Deionte Smith blocked the extra point, with the score at 20-14.
The Tigers added another score midway through the third quarter, following a 55-yard, 8-play drive. Dora’s Kenton Pettis intercepted the pass on the two-point conversion, with Tallassee still in command, 26-14.
The Bulldogs responded with a 23-yard scoring run by Thomas to top a 4-play, 74-yard drive, to draw closer, 26-21.
On Tallassee’s first drive of the fourth quarter, Stone forced a Tiger fumble that was recovered by Deangelo Pendleton and returned to the 7-yard line. Two plays later, Kirk found the endzone from 5 yards out to give Dora their first lead of the contest, 27-26.
Thomas would make a crucial interception on the next series, then score on a 5-yard run after driving 73 yards on 9 plays to further the Dora lead to 34-26.
The Tigers sent the game into overtime with a score in the final minute of regulation, with the teams tied at 34-34.
May found Pendleton on a 8-yard touchdown pass to give Dora the 41-34 edge in overtime before Tallassee’s offense took the field.
The Tigers would score on a 4-yard run to draw within a point, 41-40 and after an exchange of timeouts, sent their offense back out for the game-winning two-point conversion. As Tallassee running back DiJon Paschal attempted to turn the corner and find the endzone, he would run into Dora’s Robert Johnson, who combined with Joel Parrish, Stone, Kirk and Brantley Whitlow to stop the Tiger running back inches from the goal line and give the Bulldogs the 41-40 victory.