Big plays burn Bulldogs vs. Fayetteville
Preventing big plays proved to be a problem for the Cornersville Bulldogs in their first preseason scrimmage, as they dropped a 36-13 decision at home on Friday night to an athletic Fayetteville Tiger squad that advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class A playoffs last year.
The Bulldogs held their own in the first half of the contest and trailed just 16-13 through the first two quarters of play.
Second half change
Fayetteville, though, began to pull away in the second half, as they outscored Cornersville's reserves 14-0 in the third period to open up a 30-13 advantage before tacking on another touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
"I thought our starters performed well. When ones were playing the ones, it was a very competitive scrimmage," said CHS coach John Denton. "I saw some things that we did well and I saw some things that we need to work on. It was a normal first scrimmage."
Aided by four long touchdown plays, the Tigers racked up 341 yards of total offense overall, which included 233 yards rushing on 31 carries.
"We've got to finish plays better. On a couple of those touchdowns, we had the guy hemmed in, but didn't wrap up. All of their big plays are things that can be corrected by us," said Denton.
Dorian Thompson led Fayetteville's ground attack by rushing for 129 yards and a touchdown on nine carries, while Marquice Emmons toted the ball 10 times for 66 yards and a TD. Brandon Moore also added a 45-yard touchdown run for the Tigers on his lone carry of the game.
Quarterback Austin Holdmeyer complemented Fayetteville's running game by completing 4-of-6 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. Tiger backup quarterback Lex Marsh had his lone pass attempt picked off by the Bulldogs.
Cornersville, conversely, mustered just 216 yards of total offense overall. The Bulldogs had trouble finding consistent success on the ground and rushed for only 56 yards on 22 carries. Tailback Chance Dyer paced CHS' ground game by rushing for 36 yards on 10 carries, while Justin Black added 13 yards on three carries.
Although he tossed a couple of touchdown passes, Cornersville quarterback Jamie Crowell was sacked twice and completed only 11-of-24 throws overall for 160 yards. Reserve signal caller Zack Welch, meanwhile, misfired on all four of his pass attempts in the third quarter.
"We've got to do a better job of making Jamie comfortable in the pocket. He was having to move around too much. If he can set his feet, he can make all the throws," said Denton.
Black was Cornersville's leading receiver and hauled in five passes for 83 yards. Devante Spencer also tallied five receptions for 60 yards and two touchdowns, while Dyer had one catch for 17 yards.
Dyer and Crowell each notched eight tackles to lead the Bulldog defense with Dyer registering a sack and a interception. Blake Tomlin and Black both recorded five tackles as well, while Spencer had four tackles.
Fayetteville advanced from their own 30 to the CHS 10 on their first drive of the game with the help of a 36-yard catch by Tra Emmons and nine running plays. The Bulldog defense then hunkered down and limited the Tigers to just five yards on their next three snaps before Fayetteville kicker Luiz Buzolin missed a 22-yard field goal attempt.
On their opening possession, Cornersville quickly moved to the Tiger 41 on the strength of a six-yard catch from Black, a Dyer six-yard run, and a 14-yard reception by Spencer. The Bulldogs picked up only seven yards on their next three snaps, but Crowell found Black over the middle of the field for a 31-yard gain to move the chains. Spencer then caught a four-yard touchdown pass two plays later to give CHS a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Cornersville's lead would prove to be short lived, as Holdmeyer hooked up with Jacob Pigg for a 47-yard touchdown strike on Fayetteville's ensuing possession while Buzolin tacked on the extra point to put the Tigers up 7-6 with 7:45 left in the second period.
The Bulldogs came up empty on their next two offensive series before Thompson broke loose for a 72-yard touchdown jaunt late in the first half to stretch Fayetteville's lead to 14-6.
The Tigers then sacked Crowell in the end zone for a safety to open up a 16-6 advantage, but Dyer picked off a pass by Marsh near midfield a few moments later and returned it to the Fayetteville 33.
Final Bulldog score
Cornersville cashed in on the favorable field position, as Spencer hauled in a 14-yard TD pass from Crowell on the final play of the half before Ben Taylor converted the extra point to cut the deficit to 16-13.
With both teams playing their reserves in the third quarter, Fayetteville began to take control of the game and stretched their lead to 24-13 when Moore weaved his way through the CHS defense for a 45-yard touchdown scamper while Emmons ran in the two-point conversion.
After the Bulldogs lost the ball on downs on their next possession, Emmons raced 54 yards for a TD two plays later to stake the Tigers to a 30-13 advantage late in the third quarter.
Cornersville failed to pick up a first down on their next two offensive series before the Fayetteville put together a six-play, 50-yard scoring drive, punctuated by a seven-yard touchdown run by Mikeal Buchanan late in the fourth quarter, to cap their 36-13 triumph.