Even though Friday was the night Anniston lost 20-16 in the rain-delayed, two-day contest with Lincoln.
“The effort was there,” Bullock said. “We just didn’t have a couple of breaks to go our way.”
After thunderstorms postponed the contest on Thursday with the score tied 6-6, Anniston scored on its first two drives to take a 16-13 lead into the final quarter.
And while problems were hard to find in the third quarter, positives were just as scarce in the final 12 minutes.
After Anniston (2-3) blocked a Lincoln punt on the first play of the fourth quarter, an interception killed the ensuing drive.
After the Golden Bears chewed through five minutes of clock with a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive, the offense the Bulldogs enjoyed in the third quarter just wasn’t there.
Lincoln’s T.J. Truss said that was by design.
A lot has been made of Anniston senior Troymaine Pope and it made it across the Calhoun-Talladega county line. Truss said he talked his coaches into letting him play both sides of the ball just for this occasion.
“I told them put me on defense, and we’ll shut down Troymaine Pope,” the safety said.
Anniston went to its superstar six times in its final 15 snaps. The senior netted only 3 yards.
Bullock said Pope was “dinged up,” but refused to make excuses for the loss.
Pope was far from being completely shut down. With his trademark running style, he kept the Bulldogs in the game early, breaking off a 32-yard run in the second drive to set up his 24-yard touchdown run three plays later.
He also added the touchdown from the night before on a 3-yard run.
But on Friday night, Pope’s lone touchdown turned out to be his last gain of more than 10 yards.
While Pope struggled, it was Truss and his backfield mate, Rod Green, that made life tough on Anniston’s defense. Green provided the bullish running style while Truss supplied the speed.
He showed it on a 36-yard run that took the Golden Bears (3-2) into the shadow of Anniston’s goalpost. But despite the long run, quarterback Sharrod Cochran made the play of the drive, scrambling out of trouble and breaking tackle after tackle to convert the third-and-6 play.
Four plays later from fourth-and-goal from inside the one, Cochran went from shotgun, nestled under center and followed behind his blockers to just break the plane of the goal line.
With the extra point, the touchdown gave Lincoln a 20-16 lead and ultimately set the final.
The win was the third in the past four games for the Golden Bears, who had only one all of last season.
“I told them when I came here, seniors don’t want to wait to win,” Lincoln coach Charlie Dampeer said. “The team is just getting better and better every week.”
Bran Strickland is the sports editor for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3570 or follow him on Twitter @bran_strickland.