DOTHAN — Auburn High continued its defensive mastery Friday night.
The Tigers also continued their uncanny ability to earn safeties.
And they also continued to win – overall and at Dothan’s Rip Hewes Stadium.
Auburn earned its 15th straight regular-season game win back to last year and its 10th straight at Rip Hewes to early 2000s, earning a 43-13 win over the Dothan Wolves.
The Class 7A fourth-ranked Tigers improved to 4-0 on the season and 2-0 in 7A, Region 2 play. Dothan fell to 0-3 and 0-2, though one of the overall losses was a forfeit during a COVID-19 quarantine period.
The Tigers, behind their defense, pulled away in the third quarter, taking a 15-6 lead to 36-6 before the period ended. They scored 21 third-quarter points, 14 thanks to their defense returning an interception for a score and setting up another short field with a fumble recovery. Overall, the Tiger defense earned three third-quarter turnovers and four in the game.
Auburn also continued its bid to be the Safety Bandits, earning a fourth straight safety on the season – earning one in each game, including Friday when the Tigers’ Joey McGinty sacked Dothan’s punter in the end zone.
With Dothan backed up at the 8 and punting late in the first quarter, the snap was bobbled by the Wolves’ punter and the Tigers’ McGinity was there to dump him for a safety. It was the second safety on the season by the punt unit for Auburn. The other two came during defensive series.
The safety put Auburn up 2-0 with 1:41 left in the first quarter.
Auburn took the ensuing free kick and started at its own 46. The Tigers drove the 54 yards in eight plays, capped with a 10-yard scoring run by Amaury Hutchinson, who took it around left, made a fake inside around the 3 and scored just inside the pylon on the fourth play of the second quarter.
The extra-point kick was wide left, leaving it 8-0 Auburn with 11:02 left in the halftime.
It didn’t stay that way long.
Dothan’s Raymon Bryant took the ensuing kickoff at the 4, went straight up the middle then cut outside the left and raced downfield before being tackled at the 10. The return went for 86 yards.
Three plays later, Zay Macon crashed into the end zone off the right side on a 1-yard run with 9:37 left before the half. A dropped snap prevented the extra point kick and Dothan trailed 8-6.
Auburn added to its lead late in the first half, capitalizing on three time outs with Dothan in poor down and distances following a holding call.
The Tigers got the ball back at their 38 following a Dothan punt with 58.4 seconds left before the half.
On the series’ first play, quarterback Matthew Caldwell fired deep down the middle of the field and connected with receiver Jazavion Ray on a 42-yard completion to the Wolves 18.
After a 2-yard run by Caldwell, the Tiger quarterback completed a 16-yard TD pass in the left corner to Ray, who beat two Wolves on an out route. The score came with 10.4 seconds left in the half. The point-after kick by Josh Owsley made it 15-6 Auburn.
The Tigers added to the lead on the opening possession of the third when Hutchison raced up the middle of a 31-yard run with nobody 7:05 left. The series was keyed by a 4th-and-1 conversion when Caldwell plowed up the middle on a 15-yard quarterback sneak.
Owsley converted the extra point kick, making it 22-6 Auburn.
Then the Tiger defense stepped up on Dothan’s next two series.
With Dothan facing 2nd-and-22 from its 24, Dothan quarterback Bauer Sharp had a screen pass deflected and Auburn defensive lineman Kejuan Cason returned it a short distance to the end zone for a touchdown. Owsley’s extra point extended the margin to 29-6 with 4:33 left.
The Tigers recovered a fumble two plays later, but couldn’t capitalize missing on a 35-yard field goal attempt.
However, they got it back on the next series on a bizarre play. A pass was again tipped and Wolves’ offensive lineman James Hall caught it, but he fumbled and Auburn recovered at the Dothan 26.
Three plays later, Auburn’s Hutchinson scored his third touchdown of the night, a 7-yard run off the right side. Owsley converted the PAT to make it 36-6 with 2:30 left in the third.
Dothan struck early in the fourth quarter, capitalizing on a Christian Peterson interception with a seven-play, 82-yard scoring drive. Sparked by a long pass plays of 43 yards and 27 yard from Sharp to Jayden Folmar and CJ Shackleford, Dothan scored on a Tae Ramey 1-yard run with 10:34 left. William McCarthy added the extra point kick, cutting it to 36-13.
Auburn scored in the final minute after a time-consuming 13-play, 58-yard drive that took nearly seven minutes. Caldwell completed a 4-yard TD pass to Creighton Williams with 1:04 left. Owsley converted the PAT to make it 43-13.
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