Zion Christian holds off Bulldogs
If the Cornersville Bulldogs (1-5) are going to reach the Class A playoffs for a second straight year, they will have to make a late season run after losing 35-28 on Friday night to the Zion Christian Academy Eagles on Homecoming.
Having defeated Zion Christian 19-6 last year, Cornersville appeared to be in good shape early on in Friday's contest and held a 13-0 lead in the second quarter before the Eagles (3-2) scored a touchdown to narrow the gap to 13-7 at halftime.
Ahead to stay
The wheels then fell off for CHS in the second half, as Zion Christian tallied four more TDs to seize a 35-13 advantage midway through the fourth quarter before holding off a frantic rally attempt by the Bulldogs.
"Our goals are still intact, but we've dug ourselves a tremendous hole," said Cornersville coach John Denton. "We probably have to win at least three of our last four games to make the playoffs. I think that set in with our players after the game was over."
The Eagles finished with a modest 297 yards of offense and committed three turnovers, but racked up 210 yards from scrimmage in the pivotal second half.
Bolstered by a 43-yard touchdown run from Jacob Sprinkle, ZCA rushed for 158 yards overall on 34 carries. Sprinkle led the Eagles ground game by rushing for 70 yards and a touchdown on seven carries, while Julian Craig toted the ball 11 times for 52 yards.
Although Zion Christian quarterback Jarrett DeLozier completed only 7-of-17 passes and tossed three interceptions, he averaged nearly 20 yards per completion en route to throwing for 139 yards and three touchdowns. Hunter James was ZCA's leading receiver and snared two passes for 60 yards and two touchdowns, while Jonquil Murray added a 33-yard TD reception.
The Bulldogs actually outgained the Eagles and tallied 304 yards of total offense while committing only one turnover. Cornersville did most of their damage on the ground and churned out 180 yards rushing on 31 carries.
Bulldog tailback Chance Dyer broke the century mark for the fifth time this season and rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries while catching four passes for 33 yards.
Freshman Kolbe McMahon gave CHS a shot in the arm late in the game and toted the ball six times for 37 yards and a TD to go along with a 35-yard touchdown catch. Justin Black also picked up 23 yards on his lone carry.
"Kolbe is starting to learn what's going on. He actually got all the reps at tailback this week because Chance was hurt. He's going to be a really good player for us," said Denton.
Hindered by three sacks, Bulldog quarterback Jamie Crowell rushed for just 12 yards on nine carries and completed only 13-of-29 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns to go along with one interception.
Devante Spencer hauled in three passes for 23 yards and a TD, while Black and Zack Welch both had two catches for 18 and seven yards respectively. William Liles notched one reception for eight yards as well.
Dyer recorded 13 tackles and a sack from his linebacker position to lead Cornersville's defense. Cayde Fitzgerald followed Dyer with 10 tackles, while Black and Blake Tomlin notched seven tackles apiece with Black registering a sack and an interception. Curt Taylor tallied six tackles for the Bulldogs as well and Black and Spencer each had an interception.
Cornersville came up empty on their first two possessions of the contest, but Welch set the Bulldogs up with excellent field position late in the first quarter when he picked off a pass by DeLozier at the Eagle 21.
CHS grabbed a 7-0 lead four plays later when Dyer burrowed his way into the end zone from two yards out while Ben Taylor tacked on the extra point.
Following a three and out by Zion Christian, the Bulldogs put together an 11-play, 74-yard scoring drive to open up a 13-0 advantage with 10:06 left in the second quarter.
Dyer opened the series with a 15-yard jaunt before picking up four yards on a 4th and 1 run to move the ball to the ZCA 46. After a pair of Zion Christian penalties and an 11-yard catch by Black helped Cornersville advance to the Eagle 11, Crowell found Spencer in the right corner of the end zone for an 11-yard TD pass.
The Eagles quickly counterpunched and closed the gap to 13-7 when James caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from DeLozier to punctuate a nine-play, 54-yard drive while Juan Sanchez-Arguello converted the extra point.
Eagles pull ahead
Cornersville was forced to punt on their next possession, but Spencer intercepted a long downfield pass by DeLozier in the end zone and returned it to the CHS 34 with :34 left in the second quarter. The Bulldogs then advanced to the ZCA 36 with the aid of a 23-yard run by Black and a Spencer 12-yard reception before time expired in the half.
After both teams were forced to punt on their opening drives of the second half, the Eagles took a 14-13 lead with 4:21 left in the third quarter when Sprinkle broke loose for a 43-yard touchdown run.
Cornersville lost the ball on downs on their ensuing possession at the ZCA 32 before the Eagles marched 68 yards to pay dirt in seven plays, capped by a Murray 33-yard TD catch on 4th and 9, to push their lead to 21-13 early in the fourth quarter.
Following a Bulldog punt, James scored on a 48-yard touchdown reception to give Zion Christian a 28-13 advantage after catching a short pass from DeLozier out in the left flat and breaking a couple of tackles.
DeLozier stretched the Eagles' lead to 35-13 a few moments later when he picked off a screen pass by Crowell and raced 45 yards to the end zone for a TD.
Cornersville finally got back on track on their ensuing offensive series and engineered a three-play, 62-yard scoring drive to narrow the gap to 35-21 with 6:00 left. Dyer ripped off a 53-yard run to start the drive before McMahon burst up the middle for a nine-yard touchdown jaunt two plays later. Crowell then hooked up with Black on the two-point conversion pass.
Although the Bulldogs failed to recover an onsides kick attempt, Black quickly got the ball back for CHS by picking off a DeLozier pass near midfield.
The Bulldogs sliced the deficit to 35-28 a few moments later when Crowell hit McMahon for a 35-yard touchdown strike with 3:09 left to play.
After recovering another onsides kick attempt by the Bulldogs, the Eagles picked up a first down on three straight runs, but gained just four yards on their next three plays and faced a 4th and 6 situation at the Bulldog 39 with :25 left.
CHS, however, jumped off sides, which reset the play clock and allowed Zion Christian to run the remaining time off the clock without snapping the ball.