GULF SHORES — The No. 4 Gulf Shores Dolphin defense pitched a shutout that featured a 75-yard pick-6 from Ronnie Royal to help earn the program’s first victory over the No. 6 UMS-Wright …
GULF SHORES — The No. 4 Gulf Shores Dolphin defense pitched a shutout that featured a 75-yard pick-6 from Ronnie Royal to help earn the program’s first victory over the No. 6 UMS-Wright Bulldogs with Friday’s 17-0 decision in Class 5A Region 1 action.
UMS-Wright was held to 57 yards of total offense as Gulf Shores logged its first win over the Bulldogs in the teams’ eighth meeting. Jamichael Garrett and Mac Anderson led the Dolphin defense with 6 tackles apiece where Garrett also collected 2 sacks.
Royal’s pick-6 sparks Dolphin defense
But it was Royal’s interception returned for a touchdown, which came just two plays after a Gulf Shores field-goal attempt was blocked, that spurned the Gulf Shores shutout. Soon after he secured the catch and made some tacklers miss, Royal was running behind a convoy of Dolphin blockers who paved the way to the end zone for a 10-0 lead with 2:43 left in the third quarter.
“I had seen the guy go over so I had to go take the post and I guess he didn’t see me coming so I just picked it off,” Royal said of his perspective. “I went one way and it didn’t look good so I went the other way to score and I had my team right beside me blocking for me.”
Lowe, defensive front bring pressure all night
Kingston Lowe said he and Mac Anderson should claim half of Royal’s interception since they were among Gulf Shores’ defensive front that dialed up the pressure on UMS-Wright quarterback Joe Lott.
“(The coaches had) been telling us all week that No. 1, Joe, is their game-wrecker,” Lowe said. “That he’s the guy their offense flows through so we just had a lot of blitzes and stunts dialed up. We knew if we could affect him then their offense couldn’t run as smoothly as they’re wanting to.”
Head coach Mark Hudspeth agreed that made an impact and credited defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder and his game plan.
“He’s got them playing really hard and he’s doing a great job defensively with our scheme,” Hudspeth said of VanGorder. “His preparation — and that’s what I tell our kids all the time, the difference I feel like is in our preparation and our kids are working awfully hard.”
Wilson punches in daggering score
While the Dolphin offense didn’t manage many big plays, Kolin Wilson’s touchdown rush from the doorstep of the goal line put the game out of reach at the 17-0 margin with only 3:10 left in regulation. It came at the end of a 10-play drive where Wilson carried it the final 10 yards on all four downs in a goal-to-go situation.
Wilson finished with 46 rushing yards on 17 carries to go along with 3 catches for 17 receiving yards. Royal registered 68 rushing yards on 12 carries, caught 1 pass for 6 receiving yards and collected 55 return yards.
Lowe carried 4 times for 44 rushing yards and Braden Jackson caught a 44-yard pass as part of a 7-of-12 passing night from Jud Harris for 68 passing yards to go along with 24 rushing yards on 3 carries.
Hudspeth shouts out special teams
Hudspeth said that while he would have liked to see more red-zone drives finish with points, the head coach pointed out how the special teams unit came through with some big plays on top of Will Langston’s 40-yard field goal that opened the scoring.
“Second (shutout) of the year so we’re playing really good defense right now. Offensively, we’ve got to find a way to do better in the red zone. We were able to move the ball tonight but didn’t finish some drives,” Hudspeth said. “But overall, the kicking game was a strong point tonight and we played good team defense because we didn’t have any turnovers to give them a short field. Because if we can make teams go 80 yards every time, it’s going to be hard to do.”
Dolphins make history with revenge win
Not only was Gulf Shores’ win over UMS-Wright historic as the first in the all-time series between the Dolphins and Bulldogs but Lowe mentioned the revenge aspect after UMS-Wright was the only team to beat Gulf Shores in the regular season last year.
“Our whole theme for each week is that we’re not trying to go 10-0. We’re just trying to go 1-0 each week but it was definitely a big win to beat them for the first time in school history,” Lowe said. “We’ve been, at least for me, counting down 365 days for this one. It feels pretty sweet to beat them at home and then of course holding the shutout.”
“I know a lot of people were doubting us so we had to be the underdogs and show them that if you doubt us, we’ll go prove you wrong every time and that’s what we did tonight,” Royal said.
The Dolphins improved to 4-0 overall and 3-0 in Class 5A Region 1 with a road trip to play the LeFlore Rattlers next Friday. The Bulldogs moved to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the region standings before taking a trip to play the Vigor Wolves next week.
“At first we couldn’t really get the offense moving because they were playing good defense, and I really respect them for playing good defense,” Royal said. “But we just needed somebody to step up and I just happened to be the guy to step up on defense.”
“The win feels really good, especially because we’ll get donuts on Monday for the shutout,” Lowe said. “I’m gonna get me a strawberry frosted with sprinkles, two or three of those.”
“We’ll see one of the two of them (Faith Academy or UMS-Wright) in the playoffs again so there’s a lot of football left to be played and we’ve got a lot of work still to do,” Hudspeth said. “We’re making a couple of strides and trying to show that we can compete with some storied programs so I’m just proud of our players and proud of the support our community gives us.”
Other Week 4 scores from Baldwin County teams
No. 10 Baker 51, Foley 44
Bayside Academy 41, Wilcox Central 19
Daphne 56, Davidson 14
Elberta 31, LeFlore 13
Hooper Academy 62, Snook Christian 19
McGill-Toolen 59, Robertsdale 0
No. 1 Saraland 49, Spanish Fort 7
Satsuma 17, Orange Beach 15
St. Michael Catholic 41, Escambia County 26
No. 8 Theodore Bobcats 27, Baldwin County Tigers 24 (OT)