By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
DORA — Call it too many missed opportunities.
Corner came as close as they have come in many years to beating Dora on the Bulldogs’ own turf, but simply made too many crucial mistakes as they fell 21-11 on Friday night.
The biggest opportunity the Yellow Jackets had was to play on Dora’s level at all. The Bulldogs have pretty much had their way with Corner in recent years, but with graduation-thinned ranks coupled with the loss of standout running back Demarcus Kirk to season-ending injury, the Jackets had a legitimate chance for a win.
And they might have pulled it off, if it weren’t for six fumbles — two of them turned over — and some ill-timed penalties.
“Good defense will do that,” Corner coach Zac Willis said. “We took ourselves out of the ball game by putting the ball on the ground and giving up a penalty down there [deep in Dora territory]. We got beat by a good football team.”
Dora opened the game looking for all the world like the Bulldogs of yesteryear. After the teams traded opening possessions, the hosts got on the board first when Kenton Petties took a lateral from quarterback Steven Gosha and ran 64 yards for the score.
Each team drove deep on their next drives, but Corner’s ended with a missed field goal and Dora’s stopped dead with a bad snap on fourth down at the Jackets 30.
Early in the second quarter, Corner began a drive in good field position after a long punt return by Dylan Adamson. As quarterback — one of three Willis used in the game — he connected with Deshay Averhart for a 37-yard touchdown pass. After an offside penalty on the conversion kick, Corner faked the kick and fed the ball to Averhart again, who sneaked in for two points. That gave the Jackets an 8-7 lead with 7:55 left in the first half; it was Corner’s only lead of the night.
Dora took the lead back when Gosha linked up with Quadrekus Key for a 25-yard scoring toss, then Gosha hit Petties for two extra points.
The Jackets looked as if they were going to score again late in the half, driving all the way down to the Dora 1. But they turned the ball over on a fumble, even though the ball carrier’s behing appeared to be on the ground when the ball came loose.
Corner took the opening drive of the second half down to the Bulldog 9 but bogged down. Cody Stevens kicked a 30-yard field goal to cut the deficit to four points with 9:37 left in the third period.
Dora gave their guests ample chances in the third period, fumbling the ball away twice, but came up empty-handed with only a missed field goal to show for it.
After that miss, the Dogs pretty well put the game away with a scoring drive that ended on the first play of the fourth quarter, as Gosha hooked up with Key yet again, this time on a 29-yard touchdown toss.
The Jackets had two more chances in the final period, but one drive ended with a fumble on the Dora 11, and the other was hampered by a personal foul deep in the Bulldog half of the field and finished with a fourth-down sack of quarterback Chase Best.
Willis commended his troops for playing tough, if not always smartly.
“That’s about as hard as we’ve played. I’ve got a bunch of fighters in that locker room,” Willis said.
One of the brighter lights for Corner was senior running back Hunter Doppler, who was on everyone’s radar before the night was done. Doppler ran 21 times for 107 yards to lead the Jackets.
“We’ve tried to give him the ball a little more. We’ve got some guys that are banged up so he had to step up, and he did,” Willis said.
Averhart added 10 carries for 44 yards.
Jacob Twilley ran six times for 70 yards for Dora, most of that coming on a 53-yard romp in the last minute. Ki’Juna Babbs ran the ball 17 times for 68 yards.
Gosha completed five passes on eight attempts for 92 yards. The Jackets’ trio of passers went 5-for-10 for just 53 yards.
The Dogs were penalized 12 times, but only one was for more than five yards. Corner drew six flags for 60 total yards.
Corner (1-2, 1-1 region) faces a stern test next week, as they travel to top-ranked Calera.