Coming off a big win last week, the Bulldogs looked to go 2-0 for the first time in over a decade Friday when they hosted Perry County; and for most of the contest, it appeared Cornersville was on its way.
One big play and one solid drive by Perry County was all that stopped the Bulldogs from emerging 2-0. The Bulldogs and the Vikings kicked and scratched, clawed and wrestled each other in what was a very exciting contest that unfortunately ended badly for the Bulldogs.
But it didn't begin that way.
"The first drive we made was a thing of beauty," said Coach Ray Stocstill after the game.
The Bulldogs threatened again on their final drive of the first quarter pushing the football inside the Vikings 20 but a sack on fourth and long ended the drive and left the score 7-0. An interception stopped another Bulldog drive deep into Viking territory leaving it up to the defense to keep Cornersville on top.
The kicking game was the one area where Perry County appeared to have the advantage as the Bulldogs tried all night to kick it away from return man Brett Hoffman. Twice Perry County forced the Bulldogs to kick off again after the initial kick went out of bounds. The second time was the charm for the Vikings.
The opening kick of the second half went out of bounds and most teams would take the ball on their own 35 at that point. Instead, the Vikings accepted the penalty and forced the Bulldogs to kick it off again from their own 35. Hoffman grabbed the kick and followed a wall of blockers all the way across the field where he turned on his speed and broke free for a 75-yard, game-tying touchdown.
"These are the games you live to play in," Stocstill said.
With the game all tied, the Bulldogs settled down on offense and began to the move the football again. One drive stalled at midfield while the final drive of the third ended on a fourth and long at the Perry County 33.
The Vikings had struggled all night against the Bulldog defense but their first drive of the fourth was all they needed. The Vikings completed one of only two pass plays of the game and picked up 30 yards to the Bulldog 47 and simply grinded it in from there. The Vikings' leading rusher, Joseph Tudor capped the game-winning drive with a two-yard plunge into the end zone and the kick gave Perry County their first lead, 14-7, with 8:13 left to play.
The Bulldogs had two last chances to tie things up but were stopped on a fourth and long on their next possession. The Vikings could have run out the clock with the football and time running out but fumbled it way at the Bulldog 22 to Ethan Welch. The Bulldogs had only seconds to make something happen but an interception sealed the win for Perry County.
"We could have won this game but we just didn't make plays," said Stocstill after the game.
The coaching staff for Cornersville spoke to a very disappointed Bulldog team following the loss and expressed their pride despite the defeat.
"You gave a pretty good football team a run," Stocstill said. "You answered the bell every time and you gave a good accounting of yourselves tonight."
The stat book was pretty much even with the Vikings posting 199 yards of total offense to 146 yards for the Bulldogs. Bassham led the Bulldogs in rushing with 54 yards followed by Lovvorn with 44. Bassham also led in receiving with two catches for 23 yards.
Josh Carter led the defense for the Bulldogs with 7 stops and a fumble recovery followed by Brandon Parish, Mark Lane, A.J. Smith and Shelby Lowe each with 6. Alex Hornback had 5 tackles and a fumble recovery.
The Bulldogs are now 1-1 on the season and 0-1 in Region 6-1A as they prepare for a road trip to Wayne County. The Vikings improve to 1-1 and 1-0 in Region 6-1A as they host Columbia Academy Friday.
"These are the games you live to play in." Coach Ray Stocstill