PIEDMONT — Piedmont set the tone on the opening possession with a 13-play scoring drive that ate more than seven minutes off the clock and eventually defeated Lauderdale County 42-20 to advance to the Class 3A quartefinals.
Piedmont will travel to meet Geraldine, a team the local Bulldogs defeated 35-14 in the final week of the regular season despite Geraldine holding a 64-27 advantage in snaps.
Piedmont coach Steve Smith said he and Geraldine coach Brad Waldrop had the same reaction when they saw the 3A bracket and realized their teams could be playing again in three weeks.
"You’re never really excited about playing somebody twice in the same year but at the same time I think he and I would both take playing each other twice versus not being playing at all,” Smith said.
What to know
—The Bulldogs’ initial scoring drive combined 10 running plays and three passes, all completions. Running back Elijah Johnson scored on a 5-yard run with 4:28 on the clock. The big gain came on a 32-yard completion from quarterback Jack Hayes to wide receiver Silas Thompson. Johnson ran for 15 yards on the next play. The first of Bryce Mohon’s six straight extra points made it 7-0.
—Four minutes into the second quarter, the 220-pound Johnson scored on a 58-yard run, sprinting away from the Tigers once he cleared the line of scrimmage. A bad snap on a punt ended Lauderdale County’s next possession. Hayes and Jakari Foster combined on a 14-yard touchdown pass three plays later.
—Lauderdale County reached the scoreboard on a 66-yard completion from quarterback Slade Brown to speedy wide receiver Blade Wisdom but the extra point attempt hit the upright. The Bulldogs answered immediately when Hayes found wide receiver Max Hanson 15 yards into the Tigers’ secondary and Hanson turned the play into a 74-yard scoring pass with 1:47 to play in the first half.
— The Tigers got the first points of the second half when Brown avoided a big rush and completed a 26-yard pass to Eric Fuqua. Piedmont responded again immediately with a 52-yard drive after a failed onside kick gave the Bulldogs field position. Johnson had runs of 20 and 16 yards before Hayes scored on a 1-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
—Foster’s interception set up the final Piedmont touchdown. Reserve back Parker Thornton scored from 15 yards out with just over four minutes left.
—Hayes completed 7 of 9 passes for 150 yards in the first half with one interception and 1 of 2 in the second half for 5 yards. Johnson ran 15 times for 140 yards.
—Smith on the firsts drive: “We felt like we needed to control the ball some and that first drive was text book four us, being able to run about seven and a half minutes off the clock and taking an early lead.”
—Lauderdale County coach Jeff Mason on the game: “We knew we couldn’t give up the big plays and we had to get them off on third down and just couldn’t do it.”
—Piedmont (11-1) travels to Geraldine (8-4) for a Class 3A quarterfinal game.