Lucas scored on touchdown runs of 80, 1 and 14 yards as the Bulldogs held off Greenville 25-20 to win their opener at Lott-Mosby Memorial Stadium. Lucas finished the night with 178 yards on 18 carries and three touchdowns.
The Tigers jumped ahead 6-0 after Tremaine Jones carried the ball in from 27 yards out with 5:34 to go in the first quarter, but that lead evaporated quickly.
On Anniston’s next play from scrimmage, Lucas received the ball on a toss sweep and found room to run down the sideline. He cut back towards the middle of the field and outran the Tigers’ defense 80 yards to the end zone. The Bulldogs wouldn’t trail to rest of the night.
“He ran hard,” Anniston coach Eddie Bullock said. “He’s probably one of the easiest guys I have to coach. He’s very studious of the game, and he constantly asks me what he needs to do to get better. You can’t ask for anything better. That’s what he does. I thank him for that, because he runs hard.”
Anniston got the ball back with good field position after Greenville’s Jerome Watkins couldn’t handle a backward pass from quarterback Chris Smith, setting the Bulldogs up at the Tigers’ 37-yard line.
Greenville’s defense forced Anniston into a fourth-and-two, but rather than trying to move the chains on the ground, the Bulldogs went deep. Quarterback Quint Dobbins escaped pressure and lofted the ball towards the end zone where Qua Frazier was waiting. With a defender all over him, Frazier went up and grabbed the ball for a 29-yard touchdown, putting Anniston up by six with 11:50 left in the first half.
Penalties and turnovers hurt the Bulldogs in the second and third quarters, but the defense came up with several key fourth down stops to keep the Tigers off the score board.
“We have a young football team. We made a lot of mistakes,” Bullock said. “We made big plays when we needed to, but we have to correct a lot of mistakes.”
Greenville tied the game at 12 early in the fourth quarter after an Anniston fumble set the Tigers up at the Bulldogs’ 18-yard line. Watkins carried the ball 17 yards to the 1-yard line on the first play from scrimmage before punching it in the very next play. Greenville decided to go for a 2-point conversion, but Skylar Moore came up just short of the goal line.
Anniston answered with its most complete possession of the game. On third-and-10, Dobbins found Lucas on a 15-yard screen pass to keep the drive alive. Dobbins picked up another crucial third-down conversion with a 10-yard run a few plays later. Dobbins then found Quin Jackson open for a 24-yard catch, setting the Bulldogs up at the Tigers’ 7-yard line.
Lucas did the rest, carrying the ball in from 1 yard out to put the Bulldogs up 18-12 with 5:04 left to play.
Dobbins finished the game 10 of 20 with 93 passing yards and a score.
Greenville went to the air six times on its next two drives, but Anniston was ready as all six passes fell incomplete.
“That’s our strength, actually,” Bullock said. “Stopping the throwing game, you know, the passing game. We’re pretty good at stopping that.”
After the Tigers’ turned the ball over on downs, Lucas had back-to-back carries of 19 and 14 yards to put the game out of reach. His final score of the night put the Bulldogs up 25-12 with 1:33 left to play after a successful PAT from Damonta Miller.
Greenville scored a late touchdown on a 45-yard pass by Watkins, but the Tigers attempt at an onside kick was unsuccessful.