Auburn, Ala.—It was the unstoppable force vs. the immovable object in Thursday’s class 1A title game at Jordan-Hare Stadium as Marion County’s 50 point-per-game offense matched up against a Brantley defense that had allowed just 47 points all year. In the end the old saying that defense wins championships held true as the Bulldogs recorded their 10th shutout of the year in a 33-0 victory.
Junior O.J. Guice was named the MVP of the game with three total touchdowns, but the story of the game was the play of the front line for Brantley on both sides of the ball. Led by seniors Taylor Driggers and Adrian Howard, the Bulldogs held the Red Raiders to just 173 yards of total offense. Driggers said they knew the focus was going to be on playing physical and they held up their end of the bargain.
“It was great,” Driggers said. “We knew we were physical. We had to hit them in the mouth We came in and did that. I felt like I could have a big game. We knew what they were doing. They had us coached up and we knew what to do.”
Finishing with eight tackles and two tackles for a loss, Driggers helped to slow down a Marion County attack that entered the game with four 1,000-yard rushers. Also playing offensive tackle he helped pave the way for 255 yards on the ground for the Bulldogs.
Guice was the big-play threat for Brantley as he carried the ball nine times for 115 yards while Andrew Parker added 111 on 22 carries. Guice also caught four passes for 31 yards and two scores as he dominated the game on the offensive side of the ball.
The first half was a thing for beauty as far as the Brantley Bulldogs were concerned. Taking the opening kickoff from its own 39-yard line, Brantley marched down the field and into the red zone in just three plays as Guice ran for 35 yards on his first two touches. Facing a third and 12 from the Marion County 15, Brantley turned to Guice again as his touchdown grab put the Bulldogs on the board with the 6-0 lead.
With the lead still just six points in the second quarter, Brantley went back to work on offense with a 12-play, 80-yard drive for a touchdown to make it a 12-0 advantage. On the drive quarterback Andrew Lowery and Parker combined for every yard either passing or rushing. Lowery finished it off with a 13-yard toss to Guice, his second of the game.
Marion County tried to mount one final drive late in the first half as Ready Swanigan ripped off a 21-yard gain to take it to the Brantley 34. It was the first time across midfield for the Red Raiders, but the drive stalled at the Bulldogs’ 31 when DeShawn Riebesehl came up short on a fourth down run to turn the ball over on downs.
Coming into the game scoring 700 points this season and with four ball carriers over 1,000 yards, Marion County was held scoreless and had just 61 yards of total offense in the first half of Friday’s 1A title game.
The second half was much of the same for Brantley as the Bulldogs opened up the advantage to 19-0 early in the fourth quarter on a Parker touchdown run. Guice’s third score came on a 21-yard scamper with just under four minutes left to push the lead to 26-0. The only drama that remained was whether or not Brantley could secure the shutout. Marion County drove down to the Bulldogs’ 15 late in the game, but Selleven Burnett scooped up a fumble and rambled 79 yards for a touchdown to make the final 33-0 and give Brantley its fourth state title.