Calera falters in 2nd half against Opelika

Published 1:17 am Saturday, October 13, 2018

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor 

CALERA – A tightly contested game with an extremely talented Opelika Bulldogs team seemed to take a turn just before the half for the Calera Eagles on Friday, Oct. 12.

A season that has been full of struggle, misfortune, injury and disappointment, the Eagles were looking to pull off an upset of the Bulldogs that may make up for the 1-5 record to that point in the season.

Calera was also looking to put together a winning streak after picking up a 23-6 win against Selma on the road a week ago.

While Opelika is a completely different animal compared to Selma, the Eagles showed up ready to play and seemed to have more confidence than they have since the first quarter of their first game of the season.

Coming into the matchup, despite being extremely talented, the Bulldogs held an overall record of just 2-4–disappointing by their standards. A big reason for that was due to an extremely difficult schedule, but in the first quarter against Calera, some of those struggles continued to be prevalent for Opelika.

At the 7:35 mark of the first quarter, the Bulldogs drilled a 22-yard field goal to take the early lead, but were unable to gather any sort of offensive momentum outside of that drive in the first quarter, as Calera played possibly its best defensive quarter of the season.

That became the story of the first half as the Opelika offense never really got going.

Similarly, however, Calera couldn’t really take advantage of the strong defensive play early on.

Through the first quarter, the Eagles were unable to score any points and trailed 3-0 at the end of one.

While the Bulldogs were struggling offensively, they are too talented to keep out of the end zone for an entire half and that became evident with 8:21 left in the second quarter when they connected on a 13-yard touchdown pass.

Now trailing 10-0, the game was still very much in reach, but you got the sense Calera needed a big answer to keep from losing too much momentum, and that’s exactly what the Eagles got shortly after when Ashton Shoddie capped off a nice drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to cut their deficit to three points, 10-7, with 3:26 left in the first half.

This swung momentum quickly in the favor of Calera, who actually had a chance to take the lead or tie just before the half, but that momentum the Eagles had gained quickly disappeared when the Bulldogs picked Calera off on the 5-yard line right before the half to keep the Eagles from scoring.

With Opelika getting the ball to start the second half, that was a key moment.

The Bulldogs came out and scored on their first drive of the half thanks to a 1-yard touchdown run. After a failed PAT, Opelika held a 16-7 lead with 8:18 left in the third quarter.

Dating back to that interception to end the first half, the Bulldogs had completely turned around the game and continued to do so on its next drive when a 22-yard touchdown run gave them a 23-7 lead with 6:22 left in the quarter.

All of a sudden, the Eagles found themselves in a huge hole that they were unable to climb out of as the Bulldogs added on one more field goal, while Calera was only able to tack on a field goal, being outscored 20-3 in the second half to fall by a final score of 30-10.

Calera still has three games left to play this season, but only one region contest against Benjamin Russell on Friday, Oct. 19.