The 4-1 (4-0) Allatoona Buccaneers hosted a regional rivalry game against the 6-0 (4-0) Harrison Hoyas Friday night (10/11/19). This game was a special one as the Buccaneers honored the late Turner Cockrell and Turner’s Heroes. Turner was a former Allatoona star football player who tragically passed away from cancer while playing football at Vanderbilt. Turner’s Heroes, a non-profit organization in honor of Turner Cockrell does amazing work for children’s hospitals in support of kids with cancer, and senior kicker Jude Kelly wore number 82 in honor of Turner.
The stadium was rocking as the pregame festivities for this well-anticipated matchup began. Students from both Allatoona and Harrison filled their student sections and were cheering on their teams as they took the field. The Hoyas received the ball first and took a long 6-minute drive down the field and into the end zone with a FB Marcus Bleazard Touchdown. The Buccaneers were able to match that with a long drive of their own, eating up the rest of the first quarter, and a minute in the second quarter until they took a 1 yard rush into the end zone to tie the game at 7.
The next drive the Buccaneers defense came up with a huge stop, forcing the Hoyas to punt. Allatoona took that momentum and turned it into a 64-yard deep touchdown pass from Dante Marshall to Zach Jackson on the first play of the drive. The momentum continued to shift in Allatoona’s favor when a Gavin Hall pass was tipped and intercepted by the Buccaneers, putting them back in the red zone. However, when it looked like Allatoona could take a 10 point lead, a Dante Marshall pass was picked off in the end zone by the Hoyas. This got the Hoya student section back into the game, but they still couldn’t get the offense going and just three plays later the Buccaneers defense got to Gavin Hall, knocking the ball out and giving them great field position again. A costly end zone drop and an illegal shift penalty on a what would have been a touchdown run forced Allatoona to settle for a field goal which was tipped at the line and barely found its way over the crossbar. The Buccaneers defense shut down the Hoyas on their final drive and took the momentum into halftime up 17-7. The halftime performance included performances from both schools marching bands.
The Hoya defense came out ready to play in the second half. On just the third play of the half the Hoyas picked off a Dante Marshall pass and returned it inside the 20-yard line. Later, Gavin Hall would find Mason Babay for a Hoyas touchdown and make the game 17-14. Defense was the theme of the third quarter as neither side could get their offense going, trading punts all through the third. At the end of the quarter the score remained 17-14. The game was a stalemate until around 6 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter when the Hoya defense got to Dante Marshall, forcing a fumble and setting the Hoyas up on the ten-yard line. Two plays later, Marcus Bleazard took in his second rushing TD of the game and the Hoyas took the lead, 21-17. The Hoya defense came up huge on the next drive forcing a three and out that got the team fired up. Wearing number 82 punter Jude Kelley booted a 78-yard punt that slowly rolled its way into the end zone for a touchback.
The Buccaneer defense was able to match the intensity and force a crucial three and out of their own, however on an Asante Das punt return which looked promising the Hoyas were able to knock the ball loose and recover it. Getting the ball back with just under 3 minutes, the Hoyas gained a first down through the rushing game and were able to bleed out the clock. After a hard fought game, the players lined up for a handshake. The Hoyas celebrated their big win at midfield and were presented the trophy. The Hoyas, coming off a big win vs Dalton, improve to 7-0 and are now the favorite to win the region. Allatoona drops to 4-2 and suffered their first region loss.