Cornersville Alumni outlast Richland
A group of 33 former Cornersville Bulldog football players experienced the thrill of victory one more time on Saturday night when they pulled out a nerve racking 18-12 win in double overtime against a team of Richland alumni in front of a packed house at Wayne Hobbs Field in Lynnville.
With the game being sponsored by Alumni Football USA, the two squads battled to a 6-6 tie through the first four quarters of play before each team scored a touchdown and failed on a two-point conversion attempt in the first overtime to leave the game knotted at 12-12.
'Total team effort'
In the second overtime, the Bulldog defense rose up to the challenge and got the ball back for their offense when Steve Wolaver recovered a Raider fumble on the first play of the stanza. Cornersville quarterback Josh Polly scored on a one-yard touchdown run on 4th down to give his team the hard fought victory.
"It felt great to win this game. I knew we had to score in that second overtime and it took a total team effort for us to win," said Polly. "It was really exciting to play football again. I was nervous at the start of the game, but I settled down after a few plays."
'D' is the star
Defense ruled the day, as the two teams combined for just 296 yards of total offense in the hard hitting affair while each committing four turnovers.
The Bulldog defense got better as the game wore on and limited Richland to a mere 37 yards after halftime en route to holding the Raiders to just 150 yards of total offense overall, which included 86 yards rushing on 34 carries.
Eddie Douthit was Richland's leading rusher and toted the ball 10 times for 50 yards and a touchdown, while Chad Estes added 16 yards on three carries. Raider quarterback Clay Doggett had some success throwing the ball early, but completed just 5-of-12 passes overall for 64 yards and a touchdown to go along with two interceptions.
Safety Dylan Jones was a game changer on the backend of the Bulldog defense, as he recorded a team high eight tackles and intercepted two passes to claim Cornersville's Defensive MVP honors.
Jason Smith followed Jones with seven tackles, while Jessie Covarrubias registered five tackles. Chad Warren, Jonathan Goldman, Ben Walker, and Daniel Talley each notched four tackles for Cornersville as well with Walker recovering a fumble. Josh King and John Martin also tallied three tackles apiece for the Bulldogs, while Josh Pope, Matt Fox, Daniel Blalock, and Wolaver all had two tackles. Hank Casteel, Taylor Rogers, Jessie Phillips, and Stone Riner rounded out the defensive contributors for Cornersville with one tackle apiece.
The Bulldogs put together a few nice drives, but were hurt by several negative plays and finished with only 146 yards of total offense. Cornersville relied mainly on their running game and grinded out 121 yards rushing on 45 carries.
Riner earned the Bulldogs' Offensive MVP honors by rushing for 38 yards on seven carries. Warren and Blalock toted the ball six times apiece as well for 29 and 24 yards respectively, while Jones added 17 yards on three carries. Goldman also chipped in 14 yards on four carries.
Cornersville struggled throwing the ball for much of the evening, as Polly completed only 4-of-16 passes for 25 yards and a touchdown while tossing four interceptions. Jones was the Bulldogs' leading receiver and caught one pass for an 18-yard touchdown. Riner and Dustin Hooper each had one catch for four yards as well.
Although Pope had trouble finding running room while playing on offense, he was named Cornersville's Special Teams MVP by returning two punts for 61 yards to go along with a 22-yard kickoff return.
Richland rolled the dice early in the contest when they tried to convert a 4th and 2 situation at their own 30 on the opening drive of the game. The gamble ended up backfiring, as Warren dropped Raider running back Dustin Jett for a two-yard loss.
The Bulldogs quickly cashed in on the favorable field position when Polly hit Jones for an 18-yard touchdown strike three plays later to make it 6-0 with 8:45 left in the first quarter before Cornersville failed on the two-point conversion attempt.
Following a Raider punt, the Bulldogs advanced to the Richland 23 with the help of a Riner 11-yard run and a 12-yard scramble by Polly, but saw the drive sabotaged by a 15-yard loss on a botched pitch and eventually lost the ball on downs at the 27.
The Raiders then put together their best drive of the night and marched 73 yards to the end zone in nine plays, capped by a 22-yard TD catch by Andrew Jones, before missing the extra point.
After both teams came up empty on their final four possessions of the first half, Cornersville received the opening kickoff in the third quarter and saw a time consuming 16-play, 53-yard drive go for naught when Walker was stopped inches short of a first down at the Richland 14 on a 4th and 2 run with :49 left in the stanza.
Although Richland picked up just one first down on their next two drives, the Raiders caught a late break when the Bulldogs botched a punt attempt and lost the ball at their own 40 with 2:54 left in the fourth quarter.
Richland quickly advanced to the 19 with the aid of a 15-yard pass interference penalty and a nine-yard run by Douthit, but Jones snuffed out the Raider threat by picking off a Doggett pass in the end zone and returning it to the Cornersville 21.
After Polly tossed an interception in the waning moments of fourth quarter, the Raiders advanced to the Bulldog 21 in two plays before Doggett missed badly on a 38-yard field goal attempt as time expired in regulation.
With both teams getting four plays to score from the 10-yard line, the Bulldogs took a 12-6 lead in the first overtime when Blalock bulled his way into the end zone from two yards out before Cornersville once again came up empty on the two-point conversion attempt.
The Raiders retied the game at 12-12 thanks to one-yard touchdown plunge by Douthit on fourth down, but Jones stopped Jett short of the goal line on the two-point conversion run to force a second overtime.
"I knew a I had to make some plays at the end of the game. I had no choice because I wasn't going home with a loss. Losing this game wasn't an option for me," said Jones.
The Bulldog defense bowed it's neck one more time, as Wolaver recovered a Raider fumble on the first play of the second overtime after King jarred the ball loose from a Richland running back
On Cornersville's ensuing possession, Casteel picked up six yards on a first down run before the Bulldogs advanced to the one-yard line on a couple of short runs by Warren and Jones. Polly then scored on a quarterback sneak to set off a jubilant celebration by Cornersville's players and fans.