WEDOWEE — Randolph County and Piedmont might play twice this season. For now, Piedmont still reigns in the powerful Class 3A, Region 5.
The Bulldogs overcame a mistake-laden first half and 13-point halftime deficit with 41 second-half points to beat preseason region favorite Randolph County 41-31 and stay tied with Weaver atop the region.
“I’m very proud of our guys tonight,” said Piedmont coach Steve Smith, whose team improved to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in region play. “We had a lot of adversity in the first half tonight. If it could go wrong (it did).
“But let me start off by saying, that’s a lot to do with Randolph County. That is a great football team on the other sideline. They did what they had to do in the first half. They hit us in the mouth.”
Randolph County (2-1, 1-1) opened region play last week with a 42-6 win at Ohatchee and still has key region games ahead, including a shot to play Weaver at home.
If a region that produced four quarterfinalists, two semifinalists and a state champion a year ago holds form, the Tigers could see two-time defending state champion Piedmont again.
“We know we can play with them,” Randolph County coach Pat Prestridge said. “We’ve just got finish four quarters. We just didn’t finish four quarters and run out of gas.”
Randolph County got 152 yards rushing from Trent Lane, including touchdown runs of 48 and 2 yards. Dontavous Davenport rushed for a 65-yard touchdown as part of a 95-yard night that also saw him intercept a Cardavion Myers pass and make a key block on Emanuel Clark’s 53-yard, catch-and-run touchdown in the first quarter.
Aaron Knight added a 2-yard score, and the Tigers led Piedmont until the 7:14 mark of the fourth quarter.
Piedmont muffed and punt and a kickoff in the first half, and a mishandled punt snap set up one Randolph County score. Cardavion Myers’ fumble fourth down from the Randolph County 1 helped the Tigers mount goal-line stand late in the second quarter, preserving their 13-0 lead at halftime.
“They came out and punched us in the face,” Myers said. “We couldn’t hang our head. Last year, we got down 14-0 by Weaver, and we knew what it took to regain that lead and keep on working.”
Myers accounted for 250 yards in total offense, including 170 rushing yards. He rushed for touchdowns of one, five, 40 and five yards plus a two-point conversion, and his 46-yard pass to Darien Bossie set up one of his touchdowns.
Piedmont’s comeback started after Kaedon Jenkins recovered a Knight fumble on first possession of the third quarter. The Bulldogs took over on Randolph County’s 29-yard line, setting up Myers’ 1-yard touchdown run to make it 13-7.
But Davenport answered with his 65-yard touchdown run, and the two teams traded scores into the fourth quarter. Piedmont’s defense had struggled to stop Randolph County’s edge running game but got a key stop to force a second-and-eight, and Bossie intercepted a Daniel Wortham pass.
Bossie returned it 45 yards to Randolph County’s 13, setting up Myers’ 5-yard run for Piedmont’s first lead of the game, 34-31.
Lee Stanley, who had scored on a 38-yard run to bring Piedmont within 31-28, iced the game with a 79-yard touchdown trot with 2:21 to play. He finished with 203 rushing yards.
“Turnovers were one of the big factors, but we just sort of run out of juice a little bit,” Prestridge said. “We started cramping up a little bit. We’re not fortunate enough to have that many players play one side of the ball. We had to use our guys on both sides of the ball.”