WINDER -- Homecoming festivities create memories that last a lifetime. On Friday night in Winder, the Bulldoggs created a memory that will live forever in Winder-Barrow lore. The 31-game losing streak is history.
"It's great to end that not only for me but also for the kids and entire community," Winder-Barrow head coach David Wagner said amid the bedlam after the game. "This was a great community win. The fans were behind us, the band was behind us. The cheerleaders were screaming and people were getting up. I'm about speechless."
Riding the momentum of a first half as dominant as Winder-Barrow (1-7, 1-5 Region 8-AAAAA) has displayed in years, the Bulldoggs jumped on Cedar Shoals early and held on for a thrilling 31-21 victory before a jubilant crowd at W. Clair Harris Stadium.
The Bulldoggs defense played a huge role, holding the explosive fast-break Cedar Shoals offense to two first downs and 76 total yards in the first half.
"Coaches Allen, Johnson, Nelson, Austin and those guys did a great job game-planning during the week. Defense is about heart, emotion and intensity. Tonight I feel like we had 48 minutes of that."
After forcing a Cedar Shoals punt on their first possession, Bulldoggs sophomore safety Bradyn Randall picked off a Darius Jordan pass to give Winder-Barrow the ball in Jaguars territory. On the next snap, Chad Platt ran 43 yards for a TD and 7-0 Bulldoggs lead.
The Bulldoggs took control of the game in the last 44 seconds of the first half. After Colin Shannon booted a 27-yard FG to stretch the lead to 10-0, the Bulldoggs defense forced a Jaguars punt from the end zone. Chad Platt returned the punt 38 yards to the Cedar Shoals 5-yard line. On the next play Christian Hodge lofted a TD pass to Chandon Sullivan for a 17-0 Bulldoggs lead at intermission.
"We were in uncharted territory," Wagner said. "I don't know if we've ever gone into a halftime leading. We had to settle down and half and tell them we can't worry about winning or losing. We've got to worry about 24 more minutes of football. And the players responded."
Cedar Shoals offense awakened in the second half. Jaguars quarterback Darius Jordan's two TD passes in the third quarter sandwiched an electrifying 71-yard run by Platt for his second TD of the game, and the Bulldoggs entered the fourth quarter protecting a 10 point lead.
With 12 minutes separating them from the biggest win in recent school history, the Bulldoggs seized the opportunity. The Doggs drove 75-yards in 7 plays, highlighted by a 40-yard romp up the middle by fullback Al Schotter. Sullivan capped the drive with a 24-yard TD run for a 31-14 lead with 9 minutes remaining.
After Cedar Shoals responded with a 3-yard TD run, the Bulldoggs held the ball the final 6:51 to seal the win.
Platt rushed for 146 yards on 18 carries and two TDs to lead the Bulldoggs. Sullivan added 107 yards on 18 carries and two TDs, and Schotter plowed for 107 yards on 16 carries for the Bulldoggs who rushed for 366 yards as a team.