EUFAULA --- The Dothan Wolves’ historic first flag football game got off to an inauspicious start Tuesday with an interception on their first offensive play.
It didn’t get any better a few minutes later when Russell County struck for a long touchdown pass.
But the Wolves didn’t hit the panic button.
Sparked by three interceptions by senior Chalice Pittman, including a return for a touchdown, the Wolves rallied from an early deficit and defeated the Warriors 25-12 at Eufaula’s Tiger Stadium.
Dothan lost in its second game, falling to the host Tigers 26-12. Eufaula opened the tri-match with a 32-0 win over Russell County.
“I thought the first game was great, just getting our nerves out,” Dothan head coach Haley Williams said. “Getting scored on us first kind of woke us up, like this is real, this is live. We are not around here playing Westgate anymore. I was glad they woke up in the second half.”
With the game with Russell County tied at 12 early in the second half, Pittman delivered the game’s key play for Dothan. The Warriors had the ball at the 27 and tried a pass over the middle, but Pittman stepped in front of it and raced 31 yards to the end zone for a touchdown return, putting the Wolves in front. A pass for the point after touchdown conversion failed, but Dothan led 18-12.
Russell County was driving on the next possession, moving to the Dothan 3 yard line. With 3rd-and-3, the Warriors tried a pass off to the right, but Pittman again stepped in front of the receiver for an interception. She returned the interception – her third of the game as she also had one in the first half – to the 16.
“Chalice played outstanding on defense. We had a great team of rushers putting pressure on the ball (the quarterback) but I think she really stepped up,” Williams said of Pittman, who also knocked down at least three other passes in the game. “As a senior, that is what you are supposed to do – you are supposed to step up and make some big plays and she did that, especially in the first game.”
After a penalty on Dothan moved it back to the 12, Wolves senior quarterback Anika Kindred fired deep to senior receiver Amiya Rollins, who got behind the Warrior defense. She hauled in the pass and raced into the end zone to complete a 68-yard touchdown pass. Kindred ran in the conversion to put the Wolves up 25-12 with 7:20 left.
Russell County had two more possessions, but gained only one first down and Dothan had its first victory.
The Wolves were not as fortunate in game two as Eufaula seized a 19-0 halftime lead, scoring on three of its four first-half series, on way to a 26-12 win.
Heaven Duckworth threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to Quannesia Walton, Brooke Hallman scored on a 1-yard run and Duckworth threw a 5-yard scoring pass to Iyuana Gordy for Eufaula in the opening half. The Tigers made the last conversion on a Duckworth to Hallman pass.
Dothan, after getting just one first down on three first-half series, came to life to start the second half. The Wolves moved the 66 yards from the 14 in 11 plays. The score came in an odd way on 2nd-and-5 at the 5. Beacham passed across the middle in the end zone to Rollins, who had the ball go off her body up in the air. Teammate Liberty Ebikake, though, caught the carom right at the goal line for a touchdown. A run for the conversion failed, leaving it 19-6.
Both teams scored late in the game – Eufaula on a 2-yard Hallman run and Dothan on a 30-yard Beacham to Rollins TD pass on the game’s final play.
“Eufaula is very talented team and we hadn’t seen three (pass) rushers at practice yet, so we made some adjustments at halftime and I challenged the girls to win the second half and they went out there and did it,” Williams said. “That is what makes me the most proud – how we responded in the second half against Eufaula.”
Eufaula dominated the first game over Russell County in a 32-0 win.
The Tigers opened the scoring with touchdown passes of 41 and 19 yards from Duckworth to Hallman on the first two possessions. They also scored with 17.5 seconds left in the half on a 9-yard Duckworth to Walton TD pass.
In the second half, Duckworth threw a 55-yard TD pass to Hallman and a 4-yard scoring pass to De’Jiah Williams.