By Jamie Bone
It was home sweet homecoming for the Cornersville Bulldogs Friday night in a 28-0 shutout of Zion Christian Academy, before a large crowd at Bob Kerr Athletic Field.
Homecoming is often an albatross around the necks of a coaching staff with all of the distractions of weeklong activities, but not so for Ray Stocstill's team after suffering back-to-back road losses. The Bulldogs produced a solid performance both offensively and defensively to improve to 2-3 on the season while Zion fell to 1-4.
The Bulldogs were effective with a potent ground attack led by senior Logan Lovvorn with 115 yards. The future for Cornersville looks bright with freshman tailback Hank Casteel rushing for 94 yards and sophomore Chuck Bassham gaining 93 yards. Another freshman, D.J. Bates picked up 56 yards including a 25-yard touchdown. As an offensive unit, Cornersville rolled up 376 yards on the ground.
A dropped pass by an Eagle receiver with nothing but open territory and a third down sack by the Bulldogs' Austin McDaniel, kept Zion in check in the first quarter while the Bulldogs moved the ball effectively behind the running of Logan Lovvorn.
Following McDaniel's sack, Cornersville started a 42- yard scoring drive that would extend into the second quarter and culminate with Casteel blasting into the end zone from 3-yards out at the 8:57 mark of the second quarter.
The PAT gave the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead.
In good field position following the kickoff, Zion responded with Daniel Pugh completing a first down pass to Caleb Goodwin, just shy of midfield at the 46. But that would be all of the offense the Eagles could muster on that drive and were forced to punt. The short kick was touched by the Bulldogs but not fielded resulting in a Zion recovery at the Cornersville 20-yardline.
The Eagles' big back, John Moore bulled his way to to the 10- yard line but a fumble by Moore two plays later as he took the snap from the shot-gun formation, ended Zion's hopes of scoring and was their last serious threat of the game.
Deep in their own territory, Lovvorn and Casteel served as workhorses to get the Bulldogs out of the danger zone. Lovvorn broke free for a 22-yard pick-up but the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs with 2:52 to go in the half.
The second half belonged to Cornersville, but it was not until a three touchdown spree in the fourth quarter that the Bulldogs were able to put the game on ice.
Zion went three and out to begin the second half, punting the ball on fourth down but for a punt that netted only 4-yards, giving the Bulldogs excellent field position at the Eagle 35-yardline. Quarterback Josh King connected with Lowe for a first-down completion to the 21 where the running game of the Bulldogs pushed the ball to the 8-yard line.However, the drive stalled there.
Starting with 3:55 to go in the third quarter, the Bulldogs put together a 85-yard scoring march behind the running of freshman Hank Casteel and huge holes opened up by the offensive line. From the 20-yardline, Bassham scampered 16 yards to the 4 where King, behind a wall of blocking, carried the ball across the goal line. The extra point attempt was missed and the Bulldogs led 13-0, just a minute into the fourth stanza.
The defense of the Bulldogs once again flexed its muscle and the Eagles went three and out on incomplete passes, forcing the punt and giving Cornersville the ball with 67-yards to go before reaching the end zone. Bassham acquired most of that real estate on one play for a 63-yard romp,
being stopped just shy of the goal line. One play later, Josh King went around the left side for his second TD of the night which with the John Brewer point after, increased the Bulldog's lead, 20-0.
With some younger players in the game, Cornersville capped off a successful homecoming conquest of Zion when freshman DJ Bates busted up-the-middle, 25-yards to paydirt at the 7:13 mark of the fourth quarter. Brewer's extra point provide the 27-0 final. Bates' touchdown run came just moments after he sacked the Eagle quarterback for a 13-yard loss and then blocked a punt.
Cornersville hits the road again this Friday, traveling to Murfreesboro to take on Middle Tennessee Christian.