CMS Bulldogs celebrate homecoming victory
The Cornersville Middle School Bulldogs celebrated their middle school homecoming by thrashing The Zion Christian Academy Eagles 32-0 behind a smothering defense that held the Eagles under 100 total yards for the game. Led by defensive captain Joe Stocstil's steady play and the bone jarring tackling of Taylor Rogers, who had seven tackles, the Bulldogs threw a blanket over the Eagles. CMS coach Eric Crabtree stressed the importance of defending the home field during his pre-game speech and his squad delivered in a big way.
The Bulldogs received the opening kickoff and on the second play from scrimmage, Taylor Rodgers raced 51 yards down the left sideline for an apparent touchdown. The play was called back by a block in the back and on the next play, the Bulldogs fumbled a pitchout and Zion recovered. The Bulldog defense then set the tone for the night and stopped Zion cold on a fourth down play when Josh Pope stoned Eagle running back Tommy Aderobo in the hole. The Bulldogs took over on downs and on the third play of the drive, Justin McCord took a pitch and raced to a 41 yard touchdown. Bulldog kicker Carlos Guzman missed his first extra point of the season and score was 6-0 at the 3:58 mark of the first quarter.
Zion received the ensuing kickoff and managed only 11 yards before the Bulldogs took over again. The defense seemed like a giant stonewall to Zion with huge hits delivered by CMS defenders Cody Poarch, Luke Lineberger, and Rodgers. The tone was set for the night by the fired-up Bulldog defense which would play with great enthusiasm all night. After another touchdown was called back by a penalty, and on a fourth down play, Crabtree called for one of his favorite plays, a "flare left" pass and it worked to perfection as quarterback Aaron Crowell threw a perfect strike to Chad Riner and he took it to pay dirt from 32 yards out. Carlos Guzman nailed the extra point and set the score at 13-0 with 4:08 to play in the half.
Zion again felt the fury of the Bulldog defense and went three and out on the next possession to give the Bulldogs one more chance to score before halftime. The Bulldogs suffered a 15 yard loss on another sloppy pitch and were stopped on fourth down which gave the Eagles some life with 1:28 to play in the half. Eagle quarterback Grant Jernigan ran 8 yards and another 15 were tacked on by a personal foul on the Bulldogs. Just when the Eagles thought they had something going, Riner broke through and sacked Jernigan for a loss with 22 seconds left. A desperation pass with 2.4 seconds left by the Eagles fell short of its mark and the half ended with the Bulldogs leading 13-0.
At halftime, Crabtree said to his troops, "This is the last homecoming for the eighth graders, go out and have fun and remember this game." He also warned the defense to watch out for unnecessary penalties and for the offense to tighten up and eliminate the sloppy play that had cost them some points.
The Bulldog defense was up for the task right from the opening whistle of the second half when they stuffed the Eagles on a fumble recovery by Justin McCord and took over deep in Eagle territory. The Bulldogs sustained a steady drive culminated with Crowell tossing his second touchdown pass of the night to Poarch from 28 yards out and the Bulldogs were in the lead for good 18-0 with 6:08 to play in the third quarter. Bulldog defensive coordinator Corey Crabtree continued to set a masterful game plan and limited the Eagle offense to minimal gains and his fired up squad delivered big hit after big hit. Josh "Boochie" Pope unleashed a stinging hit on an Eagle running back on one play, then Rodgers sent another Eagle off his feet with a bone jarring tackle that sent the crowd and Bulldog sidelines into a frenzy.
A fumble on the ensuing drive by the Bulldogs did not make Crabtree happy about his "Gator" package and he told his offensive unit to take care of the ball to protect the lead they had worked so hard to get. Zion did not quit and started to gain some yards with running by Brant Jernigan and Terrence Johns, but the Bulldog defense was just too tough. The Eagles could not sustain any offense to put points on the board in the third quarter. On the last series of the third quarter the Bulldogs marched down the field and Pope electrified the crowd with a dazzling 32 yard run down the sideline. Guzman tacked on another extra point and the game was officially out of reach with the Bulldogs holding a commanding 26-0 lead going into the final quarter.
The Zion Eagles never quit in the fourth quarter, but stellar linebacker play by Joe Stocstill and Matt Osteen, coupled with some great penetration from defensive end Guzman kept the Eagles mired in their end of the field. Crabtree went to his reserves midway through the fourth quarter and showed that the future for the Bulldog Middle School program is bright with some great depth on his bench.
Guzman showed his versatility when he lined up in the backfield, took a pitch, and rumbled 8 yards for the last Bulldog score. The CMS Bulldogs remained undefeated before heading into Tuesday night's monster showdown when the Lewisburg Middle School Tigers come to Cornersville.