The Bulldogs fell behind 6-0 after being utterly dominated by the Eagles, who dropped down from Class 4A, in the first half then reeled off 29 unanswered points in the second half to earn what will appear on paper as a blowout victory.
“We had a long list of things that we had done wrong,” Smith said. “If you put the word ‘out’ in front of that, that’s what happened. They out-hustled us, outplayed us, out-coached us, and out-prepared us, anything you can think of.
“Hokes Bluff came and threw their best shot at us and they thoroughly dominated us for 24 minutes.”
The game was suspended Friday night due to lightning and play reconvened with the Bulldogs punting in a fourth-and-31 from their own 13-yard line.
Hokes Bluff took over at the Bulldogs’ 37 following a 24-yard punt and proceeded to pound the Piedmont defense with Cole Frederick, a 6-foot-195-pounder with fullback power and tailback jets. He took a first down carry 18 yards to move the chains. Then Hokes Bluff quarterback Evan Farabee found Dakota Hallmark on a 10-yard pass to give the Eagles a first-and-goal from the Piedmont 8-yard line.
Frederick went eight yards, beating Piedmont’s defense to the corner of the end zone on a sweep for a touchdown. That gave Hokes Bluff a 6-0 lead with 4:19 left in the first. The Bulldogs blocked the point after attempt.
Frederick limped off the field with an injury and didn’t return to action. He finished with eight carries for 56 yards.
However, no play exemplified the manner in which the Eagles came out and hit Piedmont in its mouth like Hallmark’s jarring hit on Piedmont standout Jamaal Johnson late in the first half.
Piedmont quarterback Cade Bradley dropped back to pass and threw the ball deep over the middle looking for Johnson. As the ball sailed deep and incomplete, Hallmark came up and delivered calling card of lick that sent the 6-2, 180-pounder crashing to the ground.
He lay at midfield for what appeared to be a couple of minutes before walking off the field on his own power.
“Twenty-four (Hallmark) laid the wood to him right there. That was a good hard football tackle. He (Johnson) got the wind knocked out of him. But I know what kind of kid he is. A lot of people think Jamaal’s flashy. He’s not flashy. Jamaal’s tough and physical and hard-nosed. I think he showed that tonight by coming back after that lick.”
Johnson not only came but he led the comeback.
He scored on a 1-yard run with 7:02 left in third to end an 11-play, 53-yard drive the Bulldogs put together to start the second half.
Chris Strott’s extra point was good, giving the Bulldogs a 7-6 lead.
With 8:10 to remaining in the game, Johnson scored on a 42-yard run.
Piedmont travels to Susan Moore (0-1) next week.
He took the handoff inside then shed an attempt at a tackle from Hallmark, near the line scrimmage and bounced the run outside, dipping down the sideline to put Piedmont ahead.
“It was hard hit and it did hurt,” Johnson said. “But I couldn’t let that get me down. It made me play harder it was it did.”
He finished the game with 125 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 12 carries.
He also won the war of words with Hallmark as the two had been going back and forth with each other on offense and defense.
“He was talking trash and I talked back to him,” Johnson said. “We were just out there playing hard. It’s different this year than it was last year because we don’t’ have that same team. The coaches need someone to step up and I’ve got to get my stamina up and be ready to go.
Sophomore Jamie Major scored on a 15-yarder with 7:47 to play after Hokes Bluff fumbled the ensuing kickoff return. He also added a 2-point conversion. He finished with 50 yards on 16 carries. Mookie Jackson added the final touchdown on a 1-yard run with 2:49 to go. Jackson rushed for 65 yards on eight carries.
Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 235-3575.