NEW ALBANY - The Bulldogs fought tenaciously for the entire game, but the deeper 6A Tigers came away with the 59-35 win on Friday. Hernando overcame a four point Bulldog lead late in the third quarter to close out the game on a 28-0 advantage.
"We had to keep going, they (Hernando) were doing some really good things on the field and we answered, but we had to keep playing where we ran out and stopped, so we gotta make sure we continue to come up and make our play and executing on offense," New Albany coach Cody Stubblefield said. "We got a little sloppy, got tired and we've got to find a way to continue to reach deep and play four quarters."
Hernando had taken a lead of 17-14 into the half over the Bulldogs and the Tigers went up 24-14 after the second half kickoff was returned 64 yards by Brody Martin to the New Albany 31. Zack Wilcke hit Ryan Smith on the first play from scrimmage for the touchdown and the 10-point advantage.
However, the Bulldogs fought back as they only needed five plays to answer and cut the lead to 24-21. Cameron Knox caught a 53-yard pass from Joe Mathis and Caleb McDonald added the PAT.
Zane Chapman recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and set up the Bulldogs at the Tiger 20.
New Albany needed only four plays to reach the goal line with Shamarquces Smith scoring form two-yards out on the heavy package for the Bulldogs and with McDonald's kick, New Albany regained the lead at 28-24 with 7:23 left in the third period.
Hernando had an answer however as they covered 75 yards in nine plays with Wilcke hitting Nikolas Gardner on a three-yard TD pass for the 31-28 lead.
Knox came knocking on the kickoff return as he torched the Tigers for a 65-yard return and New Albany appeared to be back in the thick of the fight with a 53-31 lead at the 3:57 mark in the third quarter.
Hernando staggered the Bulldogs with a two play drive that gave them the lead back for good at 38-35. The Tigers scored again three minutes later after the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs at their own 39 which led to a Wilcke to Jakolby Futrelle pass for the 45-35 lead after three quarters of play.
Hernando added two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter for the 59-35 win.
New Albany scored the first touchdown of the contest at the 4:40 mark in the opening quarter as A.I. Nugent rambled in from the 17 and McDonald connected on the kick for the 7-0 lead.
Hernando kicked a field goal for their first score and added a touchdown as Wilcke hit Reed Flanagan on a 13-yard strike for the 10-7 lead.
The Bulldogs came back to take the lead as Micah Reed caught a 20-yard pass from Mathis to give New Albany the 14-10 lead with 2:49 left in the first half.
Hernando came right back to regain the lead with 47 second left in the half as Gardner caught a Wilcke pass of 38 yards and McClain Raffety's kick put the score at 17-14.
New Albany (1-2) travels to Amory on Friday to take on the 3-0 Panthers. Amory defeated Ripley 21-14 last week.
Kickoff from Longnecker Field is at 7:00.