FANTASTIC FINISH

The sage who crowned Randolph County the Class 3A, Region 5 preseason favorite, snubbing two-time defending 3A state champion Piedmont in the process, must have been feeling pretty good at halftime in Wedowee last Friday night. Piedmont trailed by 13 points and hadn’t scored.

Piedmont coach Steve Smith said that by intermission everything that could go wrong had gone wrong. He challenged his players to have the heart to come back from a completely forgettable first half.

The Bulldogs decided they weren’t ready to see their region winning streak end at 18 games and rallied for a 41-31 victory. Piedmont is now 3-1 overall and 2-0 in Region 5.

“Our depth played a big role with us not playing kids both ways,” Smith said. “A lot of their guys had been on the field for 80 plays or so. Their kids had played their hearts out, too. I felt like that depth played a huge role in the outcome of the game.”

Cardavion Myers ran for four touchdowns in the second half and Lee Stanley rushed for two more. Stanley carried the ball 16 times for 202 yards. Myers ran for 176 yards on 25 carries. Myers was 5-for-6 passing for 80 yards. His sixth attempt was intercepted. Darien Bossie made two catches for 58 yards, T.J. Fairs two for 15 yards and Stanley one for seven yards.

In the third quarter, it appeared Piedmont might not be able to overcome its 13-point halftime deficit. Every time the Bulldogs scored the Tigers answered. Randolph County’s final points came on a short run with 10:18 to play. Sean Smith and Logan Beadles combined to block the extra point attempt leaving Randolph County ahead 31-22.

Stanley scored on a 38-yard run up the middle with 8:52 remaining but a run for a two-point conversion was short. Randolph County tried a deep pass over the middle two plays later. Bossie intercepted at the Piedmont 37 and returned the pick 50 yards to the Randolph County 13.

“We knew if we could ever get a stop we had all the momentum on the offensive side,” Smith said. “Bossie’s interception proved to be that stop we needed.”

Stanley picked up eight yards on the first snap and Myers scored from five yards out on the next play, earning the Bulldogs their first lead at 34-31 with 7:14 left.

Piedmont’s defense forced a punt but the Bulldogs weren’t out of the woods yet. The punt was downed at the Piedmont 1. A series of short gains got the ball to the Piedmont 21 and Stanley turned another run up the middle into a 79-yard touchdown with 2:31 to go. Brant Deerman kicked the third of his three extra points to set the final score.  

Randolph County’s final possession ended on an interception by Kaedon Jenkins with 55.7 seconds left.

Piedmont’s first touchdown came with 9:54 left in the third quarter on a 1-yard run by Myers. A fumble recovery by Jenkins at the Randolph County 29 set up the score. The Tigers struck back quickly with a 65-yard touchdown run but Matthew Thornton batted down a two-point conversion pass to leave the score 19-7.

Myers’ 5-yard run, set up by a 47-yard gain on a catch by Bossie, cut the deficit again to 19-14 with 7:43 left in the third. Randolph County took a 25-14 lead on a 48-yard run but a two-point conversion run came up short. Myers tallied the final points of the third quarter on a 41-yard scramble and ran for two more points to get Piedmont within three at 25-22.   

Logan Smith had eight tackles. Beadles finished with seven, two behind the line. Jenkins and Gavin Kircus each made six tackles. Myers and Jackson Barber each had five stops. One by Myers was behind the line. Thornton and Sean Smith each recorded four tackles. Thornton’s included a sack and another tackle for loss. Taylor Morrow had three tackles. Bossie, Seth Gardner, Jakari Foster and Malachi Jackson had two tackles apiece.       

Piedmont hosts Region 5 foe Pleasant Valley on Friday. The Raiders are coming off a 21-13 loss to Ohatchee last week. Smith said they were inside the Ohatchee 20 three times but failed to score. Pleasant Valley features solid skill players in running backs Ethan Borders and Colton East, quarterback Brody Phillips and receiver Caden Turner. Smith said the Raiders have “physical guys up front on both sides of the ball.”

Garden hopes to keep rolling

Spring Garden improved to 2-0 in Class 1A, Region 6 with a 40-0 victory over Woodville on the road last Friday.

The maroon and gold Panthers host Valley Head on Friday in another Region 6 contest.

Spring Garden coach Jason Howard called Valley Head “very physical.”

“They’ve got a couple of really big linemen and a big, bruising back who gave us trouble last year,” Howard said.

Valley Head is coming off a 33-20 win over Alabama School for the Deaf last week.  

Against Woodville, the Panthers established themselves as the top cats with two short-yardage rushing touchdowns in the first quarter. Michael Floyd scored the first one at 9:35 and Colby Slayton kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead. Luke Welsh recorded the second with 4:53 still to play in the opening quarter but the two-point conversion attempt failed.

With about 90 seconds remaining in the first half, quarterback Luke Ivey and wide receiver Dylan Rogers combined on a 35-yard touchdown pass. Andrew Floyd ran for two more points and Spring Garden led 21-0 at halftime.

Linebacker Lucky Bolen scored the only points of the third quarter. He intercepted a Woodville pass and returned it 11 yards for a touchdown. Slayton’s extra point attempt was off the mark, leaving Spring Garden ahead 27-0.

At 9:51 of the fourth quarter, Welsh connected with Rogers for a second touchdown pass. This one covered 40 yards. Slayton’s kick was good and Spring Garden led 34-0. Two field goals by Slayton, the first from 27 yards out and the second from 28, ended the scoring.

“We just played our base defense. We didn’t do anything any different,” Howard said of the shutout. “Our offensive and defensive lines really controlled the game.”          

Welsh rushed for 86 yards on 15 carries. Weston Kirk netted 61 yards on 14 trips. Michael Floyd added 58 rushing yards on 12 attempts. Ivey was 3-for-6 passing for 100 yards. In addition to the two touchdown receptions by Rogers, Gaines Petty made one catch good for 25 yards.

Bolen was everywhere on defense, making four tackles behind the line of scrimmage and eight additional tackles. Welsh and Brian Kelley added five tackles apiece. Kirk recovered a fumble.