The Bulldogs defeated Warriors 45-21 in 2012, extending their current string of wins in the series to three games.
Cherokee County did not play a fall jamboree game so Piedmont coach Steve Smith did not have an opportunity to scout the Warriors. Smith said he doubted veteran Cherokee County coach Tripp Curry would make any drastic changes from previous years. Smith said he believed the Warriors return four experienced players to what he described as “a huge offensive line” and that would be a strength for Cherokee County.
“We have pretty much just practiced on ourselves. We’ve been trying to work on getting ourselves ready to play,” Smith said. “We haven’t spent a whole lot of time talking about them. With the element of the unknown, there’s not really a whole lot we can do.”
In the jamboree game, the Bulldogs’ defense survived two early tests. The defense didn’t get a shutout but it didn’t allow a touchdown either. Jacksonville got a 65-yard kickoff return to the Piedmont 34-yard line to start the game and two running plays by big running back Dominique Thomas produced a first down at the Piedmont 17. From there, a motion penalty cost the Golden Eagles five yards before linebacker Jaret Prater stopped Thomas for no gain. After two incomplete passes, the Eagles missed a field goal attempt.
Piedmont turned the ball over on downs at the Jacksonville 46 on Piedmont’s initial possession. Two Jacksonville pass completions produced a first down at the Piedmont 27. On third-and-inches, defensive lineman Exavyer Jackson dropped Thomas for a 2-yard loss forcing a successful 36-yard field goal try.
From there, all the scoring was done by Bulldogs. Tyler Lusk completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Cody Daughtry with 1:56 left in the first half. Piedmont forced a punt and got the ball back with 55 seconds left in the half. A 43-yard pass from Lusk to C.J. Savage produced the Bulldogs’ second touchdown with 17.6 seconds on the clock.
In the third quarter, Piedmont added a safety then Darnell Jackson returned the ensuing free kick 63 yards for a 22-3 lead with 8:41 left in the third. Five minutes later, Prater took an inside handoff at the Jacksonville 26, broke away from two would-be tacklers at the 15 and scored standing up. Freshman Easton Kirk, who was 3-for-4 on extra point attempts in his varsity debut, completed the scoring.
Smith said line play, on both sides of the ball, caught his eye as he reviewed the film of the Jacksonville game.
“You have a tendency to follow the ball and the result of the play when you’re watching it from the sideline,” Smith said. “After seeing the film and being able to look a lot closer at our linemen – just technique and things like that – position by position, we’ve got some kids that are making progress. I was real proud of how they played in that game.”