CRAWFORDVILLE — For nearly three quarters, Suwannee High had No. 6 Wakulla on the ropes Friday night.
But a big play late in the third and a few special teams miscues cost the Bulldogs as the host War Eagles rallied for a 28-18 win. The loss eliminated Suwannee from District 2-5A contention.
“Disappointed we couldn’t finish it off and get the win,” SHS coach Kyler Hall said. “But we proved we could go toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in Class 5A.
“We’re frustrated with how we finished. That would have been a big win for the playoff picture and the district.”
After Keiwan Ladler made a leaping grab of a Tyree Taylor pass late in the third when a Wakulla defender missed on a potential pass breakup, the Bulldogs led 18-10 with 38 seconds left in the quarter.
But Suwannee (4-4, 0-2) missed on its two-point try and then the War Eagles (8-0, 2-0) answered with a 75-yard touchdown from Jaylon Worsham to Denzel Miller to tie it.
Wakulla then recovered an onside kick and scored again to seize its first lead. A late War Eagle field goal clinched the win.
“They ran the ball well in the second half and we were in it and I’m extremely proud of our team’s effort,” Hall said.
The Bulldogs started strong, grabbing a 6-0 lead on its opening drive with a 4-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal. But the extra point was blocked.
After the War Eagles pulled within 6-3 midway through the second quarter, Suwannee answered back with another scoring run to go up 12-3 at halftime. The extra point was blocked again.
“Special teams caught up to us,” Hall said, adding the Bulldogs also had another drive where they missed a big play with a pair of receivers running open down the field.
“We left points on the field and that proved costly. We have to make those plays.”
Taylor and Jaquez Moore scored the Bulldogs’ first two touchdowns.
Jordan Bolden, who rushed for 176 yards for Wakulla, had two rushing touchdowns — a 30-yard run in the third to pull the War Eagles within 12-10 and then the go-ahead score in the fourth.
Suwannee has an open week before hosting Godby on Oct. 25. And after being ranked ninth in the region in last week’s initial RPI ratings release, Hall said it’s a very similar situation to where the Bulldogs were a year ago, when Suwannee clawed its way into the playoffs late.
“We’re going to try and get healthy in our open week and then see if we can get in it,” he said, adding that if Suwannee could win out, it would be in great shape. “I think 5-5 will get us a shot with our schedule.”