ALBANY – Albany’s District 8-3A opener against Bogalusa featured a little bit of everything, but at the end of the night, the Hornets had exactly what they were looking for – Mike Janis’ first district win as the Hornets’ coach and a 1-0 start in league play.
The Hornets never trailed and put together a second-half shutout for the second straight week in a 36-14 win over the Lumberjacks at Jessie Fletcher Memorial Stadium on Thursday.
“That’s something we talked to the kids all week about,” Janis said of the win. “Ignore the record. We brought two numbers to their attention – zero, which is how many district games we won last year – and 1, which is how many district games we wanted to win tonight. We focused on No. 1, that’s all we did. Let’s go get one. The kids did a great job making sure that happened.”
It didn’t take long for Albany (4-2, 1-0) to swing the momentum in its favor, recovering an on-side kick at the BHS 45 to open the game.
Rhett Wolfe busted a 21-yard run, setting up J.J. Doherty’s 19-yard TD run two plays later. Dae Dae Doherty ran in the two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.
“Orlando Pineda did a fantastic job kicking the ball, something we work hard on,” Janis said of the Hornets’ on-side kicks.
After a short kick set the Lumberjacks (3-3, 0-1) up at the Hornet 49, Tajdryn Forbes went 24 yards on a reverse, and Josh Taylor hit Raheem Roberts on a 15-yard pass, setting up Taylor’s 9-yard keeper for a touchdown two plays later, cutting the lead to 8-6.
From there, Albany put together a nine-play, 72-yard scoring drive, which was highlighted by a 43-yard pass from J.J. Doherty to Michael McCahill, which set the Hornets up at the Bogalusa 24.
Seven plays later, J.J. Doherty scored on a 2-yard run, putting the Hornets ahead 14-6.
Bogalusa drove to the Hornet 9 on its next possession but turned the ball over on downs on an incomplete pass into the end zone.
The Hornets got back on the board in a big way when J.J. Doherty kept on fourth-and-1 from the Hornet 34. He moved the pile forward, emerged and went untouched on a 66-yard scoring run, pushing the lead to 20-6.
“I wasn’t looking for a touchdown, but they gave it to me and I took it,” said J.J. Doherty, who went 16-for-28 for 125 yards a touchdown with an interception and rushed for 101 yards and three TDs on 22 carries. “I knew nobody was going to catch me.”
The touchdown run was the second fourth-down conversion of the drive for the Hornets.
“They hadn’t had any film on us running that quarterback sneak,” Janis said. “That’s something we put in this week. After the failed fourth-and-inches last week, we’re not going to have that happen again …
“When you’ve got a big quarterback like that, and he has the ability to kind of stretch and we put that formation in, and the kids just did a great job executing it,” Janis continued. “It’s not easy being a quarterback in that situation, getting the snap and executing the play, but he did a really good job.”
Albany caught another break when Taylor tried to run on a punt then attempted to punt the ball before being dropped at the Bogalusa 37.
J.J. Doherty hit Dae Dae Doherty on a 10-yard middle screen on fourth down to keep the drive going, and on fourth-and-5, J.J. Doherty connected with McCahill on a 17-yard TD pass for a 26-6 lead.
“We saw something in coverage,” Janis said of the touchdown. “My guys upstairs, Austin Thomas on the headset does a great job communicating to me. They said we had it. The kids thought we had it. I called it. We ran a little motion and froze them just enough to get Mikey over the top, and J.J. made a fantastic pass.”
Rhett Wolfe intercepted Taylor to stop the next Bogalusa drive, but J.J. Doherty lost a fumble at the Hornet 13, setting up Taylor’s 7-yard TD run and two-point run, cutting the score to 26-14 with 22 seconds to play in the first half.
Bogalusa forced an Albany punt to end the first drive of the second half, and the Lumberjacks had a 56-yard punt return for a touchdown called back on a blindside block.
Neither team threatened in a scoreless third quarter, and Bogalusa’s Keyshawn Manning intercepted J.J. Doherty early in the fourth quarter at the Bogalusa 8. Three plays later, Taylor hit Roberts on a 72-yard TD pass that was called back after an illegal shift.
The drive ended with a 22-yard punt and set the Hornets up at the Lumberjack 43. Two plays later, the Lumberjacks were hit with a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties after J.J. Doherty hit Trey Yelverton for an 11-yard gain.
The penalties moved the ball to the BHS 6 and resulted in a 23-yard field goal from Pineda, pushing the lead to 29-14.
Albany recovered another onside kick and an unsportsmanlike conduct call against the Lumberjacks moved the ball to the BHS 24, but the Hornets turned the ball over on downs.
“Our defense was really playing lights out in the second half, and I went pretty conservative offensively,” Janis said. “Looking back on it, probably could have made some different calls, but as well as we were playing defensively, hat’s off to them, they made some adjustments, came out in the second half, and they played really well defensively also.”
Taylor went 5-for-16 for 67 yards and two interceptions and rushed for 63 yards on 14 carries, while the Hornets held the Lumberjacks to 172 yards of total offense.
“Our kids did a great job in coverage, which we asked a lot from our defensive backs tonight, and they did a fantastic job all night,” Janis said.
The Hornets made up for it on the next play when Justin Coats picked off Taylor on the first play of the ensuing drive and returned in 25 yards for a touchdown, and Pineda’s PAT capped the scoring.
“I knew they were going to run a slant because they were running slants all night, so I basically just dropped back in coverage and I was right there where I needed to be and scored,” Coats said. “It felt like a gift. It was right there.”
ALBANY 36, BOGALUSA 14
Score By Quarters
Bogalusa 6 8 0 0 -- 14
Albany 14 12 0 10 -- 36
AHS – J.J. Doherty 19 run (Dae Dae Doherty run)
BHS – Josh Taylor 9 run (kick failed)
AHS – J.J. Doherty 2 run (kick failed)
AHS – J.J. Doherty 66 run (run failed)
AHS – Michael McCahill 14 pass from J.J. Doherty (pass failed)
BHS – Taylor 7 run (Taylor run)
AHS – Orlando Pineda FG 23
AHS – Justin Coats 25 interception return (Pineda kick)
First Downs 10 14
Rushes-Yards 22-105 35-159
Passing Yards 67 125
C-A-I 5-16-2 16-28-1
Punts-Avg. 4-18.25 2-35.5
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 18-142.5 5-30