Billingsley advances with win over Ellwood Christian

Published 12:37 am Saturday, November 15, 2014

Looking downfield: Billingsley’s Thomas Nichols (No. 4) throws a pass during Friday’s win at Ellwood Christian. Nichols completed seven-of-13 passes in the game for 117 yards and two touchdowns.

Looking downfield: Billingsley’s Thomas Nichols (No. 4) throws a pass during Friday’s win at Ellwood Christian. Nichols completed seven-of-13 passes in the game for 117 yards and two touchdowns.

By Daniel Evans | The Selma Times-Journal

Neither the cold nor the Ellwood Christian defense could slow Billingsley Friday night, as the Bears ran through, around and over the Eagles for a dominant 72-12 win at Memorial Stadium.

The Eagles (5-7) were unable to find an answer for Billingsley’s Derrick Dunigan and Jaytarius Steele, who combined for six touchdowns, and saw their season come to an end. It obviously wasn’t the way Ellwood hoped its season would come to a close, especially one that saw the school host its first AHSAA high school playoff game.

The Bears (9-2) scored the game’s first 26 points, with three of the touchdowns coming on runs by Dunigan, to put Ellwood in a big hole early.

Ellwood coach Eric Martinear said his team was so worried about the cold weather — temperatures were near freezing at kickoff — that they couldn’t focus on football.

The cold didn’t seem to phase the Bears.

“It’s something you have to deal with,” Billingsley head coach Tyson McLean said. “The further you go, the more you have to deal with the cold weather, and I thought we did a pretty good job. I’m proud of my guys.”

Ellwood had a chance to get back in the game late in the first half.

The Eagles successfully drove the ball down the field three consecutive times inside the Billingsley red zone.

The first of those drives ended when Rayford Mitchell fumbled as he crossed the goal line, which Billingsley recovered in the end zone for a touchback. The following two drives closed with Ellwood Christian touchdowns, both on throws from quarterback Jalen Furlow to Michael Lewis. Ellwood pulled within 26-12 with 46.6 seconds left in the second quarter and the Eagles, who would get the ball to begin the second half, seemed poised to carry momentum into the locker room.

That all changed on one play.

Steele returning the ensuing kickoff inside the Ellwood 20-yard-line. Three plays later Dunigan scored his fourth touchdown of the half to make it 32-12 Bears at the break.

“The kickoff return allowed us to get a score right before half and kind of got the momentum back and we carried that in the second half,” McLean said.

Billingsley kept the momentum rolling in the second half. Following a failed fake punt by the Eagles, Steele scored on an 8-yard run with 9:31 left in the third quarter to extend the Bears’ lead to 40-12.

With another chance to get back in the game, Ellwood sputtered again.

Furlow was intercepted by Thomas Nichols, who ran it back 62 yards for a touchdown to put Billingsley on top 46-12. Nichols threw the next Billingsley touchdown, a 12-yard pass to Dalton Davis to put the Bears up 52-12 with 34.1 seconds left to play in the third quarter.

The Bears added three more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, two of them coming as a direct result of Eagles’ turnovers. Mitchell fumbled a kickoff setting up a touchdown run by Javon Brown and Furlow was intercepted, setting James Woods up for a 5-yard score.

Dunigan rushed 16 times for 132 yards and three touchdowns on the night, while Brown had 80 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries, Steele had 58 yards and a touchdown on four carries and James Woods had 42 yards and a touchdown on four carries.

Nichols completed seven passes in 13 attempts for 117 yards and two touchdowns.

Dunigan caught two passes for 53 yards.

Rashaud Caver led the Billingsley defense with nine tackles, while Dalton Davis had seven tackles and two interceptions, including one that was returned 74 yards for a touchdown.

Dunigan, Steele and Mason Friday also had interceptions.

Billingsley will host Brantley (12-0) next week.