The Enterprise Bulldogs welcomed the Hornets of Lake to LJ Davis Field this past Friday for round one of the MHSAA Class 2A playoffs. Enterprise, the #2 seed from Division 6-2A, and Lake, the #3 seed from Division 5-2A squared off in a battle many considered the best first-round match-up across the state. The two teams did not disappoint as Enterprise (10-1) used a late fourth-quarter score to defeat the visiting Hornets (8-3) by a score of 18-12 and advance to the second round of the playoffs.
Playing their first home playoff game since 2008, the Bulldogs would show their nerves early in the contest. On the game’s opening possession, Enterprise would draw consecutive false start penalties and be forced to punt from deep in their own territory. Things would go from bad to worse for the Bulldogs as the punt snap would sail over punter Blake Wilkins’ head resulting in a big loss and giving Lake possession at the Enterprise 12-yard line.
Two plays later, Lake would score the first points of the night as quarterback Brady Magee would dart in on a quarterback counter from 7 yards out to give Lake the touchdown. The PAT was wide left but Lake led 6-0 just three minutes deep in the game.
Both teams would put together lengthy drives on their next possessions; however, crucial fourth-down stops by the defenses would prevent either team from getting on the scoreboard.
Enterprise would take possession for the third time to begin the second quarter. After an offside penalty on Lake to begin the possession, quarterback Derryon Gray connected with Ridge Kidd on a 30-yard pass completion. Kidd climbed over the defender to make the spectacular grab and set the Bulldogs up inside Lake territory. Two fourth-down conversions, one on 4th-and-1 from the 25 and the next on 4th-and-2 from the 15 would keep the Bulldog drive alive. On the 12th play of the drive, Gray would run the quarterback counter to perfection and find the endzone. The PAT was no good but Enterprise had tied the score at 6 with 7:43 to go in the second quarter.
After forcing Lake to a quick three and out, Enterprise would put together an 8-play, 70-yard drive that would result in a 31-yard touchdown pass from Gray to sophomore tight end Blake Wilkins. A missed PAT would leave Enterprise clinging to a 12-6 lead with 1:56 remaining in the opening half.
Lake would quickly answer, however. Starting at their own 24-yard line following the Bulldog kickoff, Lake would need only five plays to answer the Bulldog score. On 3rd-and-1 from midfield, Lake would run a quick screen to the wide receiver who would outrace Bulldog defenders down the left sideline and into the endzone. The Bulldogs would stop the extra point and the game was tied 12-12 with only 0:37 remaining in the half.
To begin the second half, Enterprise attempted an onside kick that failed to travel the necessary 10 yards and Lake would take over in Enterprise territory at the 48. On 3rd-and-6, Magee would run through the middle and cough up the football after being hit by a pair of Bulldog defenders. Ridge Kidd would pounce on the fumble from his safety position and the Bulldogs would take possession.
Enterprise would be unable to take advantage of the turnover as they were forced to punt the ball back to Lake. Consecutive turnover on downs for each team would see the third-quarter clock run down and set up the dramatic fourth-quarter finish.
The Bulldogs would intercept the first of two Hornet passes early in the fourth quarter. After taking over on downs from the Bulldogs, Lake would drive deep into Bulldog territory looking to take the lead. On 4th-and-2 from the Bulldog 5-yard line, Magee would roll to his right and look to pass. Spotting an open receiver, he lofted the ball toward the front pylon where Bulldog defender Ethan Baxley closed quickly and intercepted the Hornet pass. After a conference, the officials ruled Baxley was in the endzone and ruled a touchback, moving the ball out to the Bulldog 20-yard line and giving Enterprise possession.
The Bulldogs would then lean on its vaunted rushing attack. Gray would do the most damage on the ground for the Bulldogs as he carried three times on the drive for 50 yards. The big play came on a quarterback counter where Gray broke free and raced down the left sideline before being knocked out of bounds at the 3-yard line. Gray quickly got his team to the line while Lake attempted to substitute and snuck his way between the guard and center for the 3-yard touchdown run with 2:35 remaining in the game.
With the Bulldog faithful on their feet and the rally rags waving, the Enterprise defense would need to come through with a big stop to seal the victory. On Lake’s first play, they connected on a 10-yard pass putting the ball near midfield. On the next play, Magee would take a deep shot down the sideline; however, Bulldog cornerback Daniel Swain was in perfect position and came through with a huge interception. Swain went up over the Hornet receiver and grab possession of the ball; however, he would have the ball knocked loose and batted around in the air. With Swain lying prone on the ground, the ball would fall directly into his chest where he would secure it for the interception.
With Lake having only one timeout, the Bulldogs would need to pick up only one first down to run out the clock. They would get that on 3rd-and-1 as John Campbell would break free for a 24-yard gain and a Bulldog first down. The Bulldogs would line up in the victory formation and take a knee to run out the clock, securing the playoff victory.
The win moves Enterprise into the second round of the MHSAA Class 2A playoffs where they will travel to Division 7-2A Champion Wesson.
The Bulldogs racked up 361 yards of total offense while holding Lake to 245 yards on the night. Campbell and Kristian Milsap led the Bulldogs with 88 yards on 11 and 16 carries respectively. Gray added 66 yards on the ground and completed 2 of 3 passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. Kidd finished with 56 yards rushing and the one acrobatic reception for 30-yards.
Defensively, Campbell led Bulldog tacklers with 9 stops, while Baxley had 7 to go along with his interception. Jonathan Thomas and Luke Cochran both aided the defense with 6 tackles each.
The Bulldogs' next stop will find themselves at Co-Lin Community College to take on the Wesson Cobras in round 2. Wesson defeated North Forrest 20-14 to advance to the second round. We hope that you will make the trip to Co-Lin this Friday as the Bulldogs look to keep their historic season alive. Go DAWGS!