The Dothan Wolves didn’t officially clinch a state playoff berth Friday, but they put themselves in a good position.
Sparked by two early third-quarter scores, solid second-half defense and two late breakaway touchdown runs, the Wolves pulled away to a 44-20 victory over the Carver Wolverines at Rip Hewes Stadium.
The win pushes Dothan (5-2 overall) to 3-1 in Class 6A, Region 2 and into sole possession of first place, percentage points ahead of Eufaula and Sidney Lanier (2-1) and Carver (1-1).
The Wolves, who own wins over two of those three teams, have just one just region game left, an Oct. 25 battle against Sidney Lanier. They also got help Friday from Eufaula, which dealt a second loss to Park Crossing (1-2), the lone team to beat Dothan.
Dothan led 21-20 at halftime, but dominated the final two quarters, scoring three times on offense and getting a key score on a safety from the defense. The Wolves defense, after allowing three second-quarter scores, gave up only four first downs in the first five Carver series after halftime and pitched a second-half shutout.
The Wolves defense came up big with an early third-quarter safety. Kole Williams, Carver’s quarterback, tried to roll to his right while in the end zone and tried to throw as he was being hit by a Dothan defender. The throw was ruled intentional grounding while was in the end zone, resulting in a safety, making it 23-20 with 8:07 left in the third quarter.
Taking over at the 30 after the safety, Dothan overcame a holding penalty to move deep into Carver territory. Quarterback Jamal Lane kept twice, one for 11 yards, the other for 31 after faking to Jalen White inside and finding a hole off the left edge, to move DHS to the 10.
A play later, White took a handoff to the right side and weaved his way through traffic and defenders for a 10-yard TD run with 6:21 left. Brody Barnett’s extra point was good after a nice scoop and spot by holder Bauer Sharpe of a low snap, making it 30-21 Wolves.
Ty Webb, who finished with 154 yards rushing, gave Dothan an insurance score early in the fourth quarter, busting straight up the middle untouched on a 61-yard sprint to the end zone. Barnett’s extra point made it 37-20 with 8:36 left in the game.
White added another long breakaway TD run in the fourth quarter to seal the victory, this one a 65-yarder also up the middle. White broke the line of scrimmage, was slightly tripped up after going through, but stayed on his feet and raced away from everyone to the end zone. Barnett added his sixth successful extra point kick to make it 44-20 with 3:28 left.
After a scoreless opening quarters, the two teams lit up the scoreboard with three scores each in the second quarter, matching back-to-back scores.
Early in the second quarter, Carver punched it on an eight-play, 56-yard drive with the TD coming on a Karl Ligon 17-yard run up the middle. The extra point kick by Karl Hopkins made it 7-0 with 10:25 to go till quarter.
Dothan answered exactly two minutes later, capping a five-play, 58-yard scoring drive to knot the score at 7 with 8:25 left.
Facing 3 rd -and-9 at the Carver 32, the Wolves sensed a Wolverines blitz coming and quarterback Lane lofted a running back screen to Webb, who had blockers and open field on way on the left side of the field to a 32-yard TD pass and catch. Barnett’s point after kick was good.
Dothan moved to the Carver 31 on its ensuing series, but a high snap on 4 th -and-1 forced Lane to retrieve the ball behind him and eventually he was sacked for a 13-yard loss to the 44.
Carver, which was forced to punt in three plays in the previous series, got untracked quickly after the stop. A 32-yard run by Ligon opened the series, which was capped three plays later when Williams faked inside to Ligon and hit a slant pass to wide open Cortavious Smith for a 13-yard TD pass. The extra point was no good, leaving it 13-7 Carver with 4:12 left in the half.
Dothan quickly struck back, scoring barely a minute later. Setting up at the 35 after the kickoff went of bounds, Dothan moved to the Carver 46 off runs of 13 and 6 yards by Webb. On the next play, Webb ripped off a 20-yard run up the middle and a 5-yard facemask penalty on Carver was tacked on moving the Wolves to the 21.
White got the call off a pitch sweep to the right corner and cutback to the middle before racing untouched to the end zone on a 21-yard scoring run. Barnett’s PAT made it 14-13 with three minutes.
The Wolverines, though, reclaimed the lead on the next series on a 90-yard, eight-play drive. Starting at the 10 because of a block in the back penalty, Carver’s Williams rolled to his right but threw to his left 45 yards to Javon Wilson to the Dothan 45.
Seven plays later, Ligon scored his second TD of the night on a 9-yard run to the left corner after finding no room up the middle. Hopkins’ extra point was good, making it 20-14 with 25 seconds left before the half.
It appeared that would be the score at halftime, but Dothan’s Jabre Barber had other plans. With Carver kicking directionally to its sideline, the ball bounced several times away and behind Barber. He picked it up at the 21, moved upfield then cut back to a hole in the middle and turned on the speed for a 79-yard kickoff return with 10 seconds left. Barnett booted the extra point to put DHS Up 21-20.