In a wild 5-2A game that featured 719 yards of total offense, Quitman battled back from a third-quarter deficit with two straight scores in the fourth quarter to pull out a 40-30 victory over Cutter Morning Star on homecoming Friday at Bulldog Stadium.
In a wild 5-2A game that featured 719 yards of total offense, Quitman battled back from a third-quarter deficit with two straight scores in the fourth quarter to pull out a 40-30 victory over Cutter Morning Star on homecoming Friday at Bulldog Stadium. Senior running back Allen Mannon led the Bulldogs (2-2, 1-1) with 237 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 18 carries. Mannon gave Quitman a 34-30 lead with a 5-yard scoring run. With just over a minute left in the game, Mannon broke free for a 13-yard touchdown run on fourth and 2, sealing the game for the Bulldogs. Quitman Coach Fritz Heidenreich said the victory was critical for the Bulldogs to have a chance to reach the playoffs for a third consecutive season. “This puts us at 1-1 in conference, which is where we thought we would be at this point. We let one slip away at Bigelow and Cutter was a team we thought we could beat but boy they played hard,” he emphasized. “It was an unbelievably hard-fought game. We finally put it away in the final two minutes.” Quitman jumped out to an early 6-0 lead with a 7-play, 61-yard scoring drive. Mannon ignited the drive with a 35-yard run then versatile slot back Hunter Martin added a 9-yard carry. Facing a fourth and long, Mannon moved the chains with a 12-yard run over left side and he scored from four yards out on the Bulldogs' next snap. The extra-point attempt failed, leaving Quitman's lead at 6-0 with 9:21 left in the first quarter. The visiting Eagles ensuing drive ended with an interception in the end zone by cornerback Dakota Bohannan. Six plays later Quitman had covered 80 yards for a score as Mannon ran for gains of 11 and 13 then Hunter Martin found room for 16 yards as the Bulldogs entered Eagle territory. From there, Mannon rumbled for 16 yards and Hunter Martin added 17 more, which set up an 11-yard touchdown run over left side by Mannon. Quarterback Walker Johnson kept for two more points on the conversion, pushing Quitman's lead to 14-0. The Eagles (3-2, 1-1) fought back after recovering a fumbled punt. Halfback Austin Morphew capped Cutter's 3-play scoring drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. The extra-point kick failed, leaving Quitman's lead at 14-6 with 2:48 left in the first quarter. Cutter struck again following a Zach Wren interception and 30-yard return, which set up the Eagles inside the red zone at the Bulldog 15. Four plays later slot back Spencer May found running room around right end for a 4-yard touchdown. Quitman held tight on the two-point conversion, preserving a 14-12 lead with 8:11 remaining in the first half. Cutter suddenly snatched the lead by recovering a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and marching 50 yards in nine plays for a score. On third and 6, quarterback Cody Machen found May open in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Quitman stopped the two-point conversion, leaving the Eagles with an 18-14 advantage. But, Quitman would answer quickly, driving 51 yards in four plays to regain the lead. Mannon busted free for 31 yards on the Bulldogs' first snap. On second and 12, receiver Jamen Ellis picked up 19 yards on a jet sweep, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run by Mannon. Walker Johnson kicked the extra-point, pushing Quitman's lead to 21-18. Not to be outdone, Cutter bounced back with a quick score as Machen led the Eagles into scoring position with completions of 12, 3 and 33 yards. With time running out, Machen lofted a pass to the end zone, where Quitman deflected the ball into the hands of Wren for an 11-yard touchdown. The Bulldogs stopped the two-point conversion, leaving Cutter's halftime lead at 24-21. The Bulldogs jumped back on top in the third quarter with a 9-play, 77-yard scoring strike. Hunter Martin jump-started the Bulldogs with a 13-yard run then Ellis added 15 more before Hunter Martin broke free for 16 yards as Quitman converted on third and 9. Backed up on fourth and 13, Johnson tossed to Hunter Martin, who found receiver Chase Stewart wide open for a 35-yard touchdown off a halfback pass dialed up by receivers coach Caleb Clark. Johnson booted the extra-point, giving the Bulldogs a 28-24 lead with 6:46 left in the third quarter. “That was a big play. Coach Clark actually suggested it,” said Heidenreich. “It was a play we hadn't run yet this year and it worked. That was a big momentum shift right there. I wasn't thinking about it so it was a great call.” Cutter responded with an 8-play, 56-yard scoring drive capped by Machen's 26-yard touchdown pass to Morphew. Quitman held strong on the two-point conversion, leaving the Eagles' lead at 30-28. On its next offensive series, Quitman marched all the way to the Cutter 1-yard line before the Eagles bowed up, stopping four straight runs short of the goal-line. Quitman kept the Eagles pinned deep in their territory, forcing a punt after one first down. “That was definitely a momentum swing but our kids responded and held them, got the ball back and went down and scored,” said Heidenreich. Starting from the Cutter 43, the Bulldogs regained the lead with a 6-play scoring drive that started with two runs for a total of 16 yards from Mannon, plus an 11-yard run by Ellis. On first and 20 after both teams traded penalties, Johnson connected with Stewart for 15 yards, which set up Mannon's 5-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion failed, leaving the Bulldogs' lead at 34-30 midway through the fourth quarter. Quitman forced a three and out on the Eagles' next possession and sealed the game with its ground attack as Mannon carried seven times for 64 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown run on fourth and 2. With 1:10 remaining in the game, Cutter stopped the Bulldogs' conversion attempt, setting the final at 40-30. “He [Mannon] got pretty tired but he made a bunch of good runs,” Heidenreich said. “On that last touchdown run it looked like they had him down but he kept his knee off the ground and kept his balance and scored. He was running wild. They stopped him a few times but the line opened holes and one guy wasn't going to bring him down,” added Heidenreich. Bohannan picked off his second pass of the game in the final minute, while cornerback Hunter Bridges also contributed an interception in the second half. Following Mannon's 237 yards and five touchdowns on the ground, Ellis added eight carries for 82 yards, while Hunter Martin ran six times for 59 yards. Martin also completed his only pass for a 35-yard touchdown to Stewart, who finished with six receptions for 91 yards. Defensively, linebacker Hadley Martin and defensive end Justin Kent led the Bulldogs with nine tackles apiece, while linebacker Jacoby Brown followed with eight stops. Quitman visits defending conference champion Magnet Cove (4-1, 2-0) on Friday at 7 p.m. (Editor's note: Stats and information courtesy of Quitman Football Foundation's Dan Lichoff.)