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Brian Tannehill / For Tallapoosa Publishers Inc. Holtville’s Payton Coburn (34) fights for yards after the catch against Leeds.

The matchup between Holtville Bulldogs and Leeds began with the teams trading touchdowns on their opening drives. However, the Bulldogs were too much for the Greenwave to handle as Holtville won, 35-7, in a Class 4A Region 3 contest Friday night.

The win clinched a playoff spot for Holtville.

“We told our guys to play assignment football and get physical and keep attacking,” Holtville coach Jason Franklin said. “We turned the ball over several times in the second half which disappoints me, but we ran the football very well. “

The game stats back up Franklin’s statement. As a team, the Bulldogs (5-2, 3-2) put up 261 rushing yards on 35 carries and scored four touchdowns.

Running back Drew Pickett was the workhorse for Holtville. He carried the ball 18 times for 114 yards and two touchdowns.

“We changed our tempo up the second half and that helped,” Bulldog quarterback Drake Baker said. “Drew, he’s legit, and he’s a freshman.”

Pickett also threw the lead block on a goal line run that gave Baker a hole to run through for the touchdown which pushed the score to 21-7 in favor of the Bulldogs in the third quarter.

Baker went 5-for-9 through the air, good for 59 yards and one pick. His lone touchdown pass connected with wide receiver Noah Yarroch in the end zone that tied the game, 7-7.

While Holtville’s offense had success running the ball, the defense came to life in the second half.

“It was a special night for us on defense,” Bulldogs’ Hunter Martin said. “It was a big team win. We finished strong and that’s something we have struggled with here this season. It was all in our preparation this week. It was our conditioning and practicing that gave us this win.”

Martin finished the night with five tackles and two sacks for loss. Michael Forney led the defense with 11 tackles.

“I thought our defense played lights out,” Franklin said. “At this point in the season I don’t think anybody is young now. These guys are not green anymore. They are experienced players.”

The Greenwave appeared to have momentum on their side after an opening drive touchdown run by running back Jeremiah Hunter just three minutes into the game. However, three Leeds fumbles — all recovered by Holtville — kept Leeds (1-6, 1-3) from the end zone.

“(I) give them credit; they had a good defensive plan,” Leeds coach Jerry Hood said. “We turned the ball over three times. It is hard to win like that. We’re going to work in practice like we work every week. The kids are going to come back with a renewed spirit and get ready for Handley.