Bulldogs edge McEwen 14-8
The Cornersville Bulldogs (2-6) kept their playoff hopes alive by going on the road and defeating the McEwen Warriors on a rainy Friday night to snap a four-game losing streak.
Having beaten McEwen 27-21 last year, the Bulldogs managed to overcome the elements early on in Friday's contest and built a 14-0 lead in the first half before fending off a late Warrior rally attempt to hang on for another six-point victory.
"It was big to get this win. It gave us a chance to keep the playoffs in line and get that monkey off our backs. It was good for the kids," said CHS coach John Denton. "We've played a tough schedule so far and played some good teams early in the season. I think that should help us these last two games and this win should give us some confidence."
After yielding an average of 46.5 points per game in their last four contests, the Bulldog defense came up big on Friday and limited McEwen to 270 yards of total offense while forcing three Warrior turnovers.
Bolstered by a 54-yard run by Bryce Crowell in the fourth quarter, McEwen (1-6) finished with 219 yards rushing, but averaged just 3.1 yards on their other 53 carries.
"I thought our defense performed much better. We went back to basics and worked on our run fits this week. Our linebackers and safeties looked a lot better in run support this week," said Denton. "I thought we handled the conditions well. It seemed to affect them more than us."
Crowell received the lion's share of the carries for the Warriors and toted the ball 32 times for 153 yards, while Logan Tummins added 38 yards and a touchdown on 12 attempts.
McEwen quarterback Johnathan Lutz was ineffective throwing the ball in the wet conditions and completed just 3-of-10 passes for 51 yards to go along with one interception.
Chance Dyer led the Bulldogs' defensive effort by recording 11 tackles from his outside linebacker spot. Cayde Fitzgerald, Zack Welch, Justin Black, and Bobby Wayne Lee also notched six tackles apiece for Cornersville with Welch tallying an interception. Grant Cook registered five tackles for CHS as well, while Blake Tomlin and William Liles each recovered a fumble.
Cornersville also had trouble moving the ball in the soggy conditions and mustered just 217 yards of total offense, which included 131 yards rushing on 31 attempts.
Dyer cracked the 100-yard mark for the sixth time this season and rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Freshman Kolbe McMahon toted the ball nine times as well for 29 yards, while Justin Black gained 10 yards on his lone carry.
CHS quarterback Jamie Crowell attempted only 10 passes, completing six for 86 yards and a touchdown.
Devante Spencer was the lone Bulldog wide out to record a catch and hauled in two passes for 60 yards, while Dyer had four receptions for 26 yards.
The Warriors caught an early break when defensive lineman Ryan Pack recovered a Dyer fumble at the CHS 45 on the second play of the game.
Cornersville's defense stood tall in the sudden change situation and got the ball back a few minutes later when Welch picked off a pass by Lutz at the 32.
Although the Bulldogs were forced to punt on their next two possessions, CHS managed to snuff out two more McEwen scoring threats, as they stopped the Warriors on downs at the Cornersville 29 late in the first quarter before Tomlin recovered a Tummins fumble at midfield midway through the second period.
The Bulldogs finally broke the scoreless time on their fourth offensive series when Jamie Crowell hit Spencer for a 50-yard touchdown strike down the right sideline. Ben Taylor then tacked on the extra point to give Cornersville a 7-0 lead.
Following a McEwen punt, the Bulldogs put together a four-play, 58-yard TD drive to stretch their lead to 14-0 with 3:00 left in the half. Dyer started the drive by weaving his way through the Warrior defense for a 49-yard gain. Cornersville then lost a yard on their next two plays, before Dyer rumbled into the end zone from 10 yards out on 3rd and goal.
Aided by a short Bulldog kickoff, the Warriors advanced to the Bulldog 8 in the waning moments of the second quarter, but Fitzgerald tackled Bryce Crowell in the backfield on the final play of the half to keep McEwen off the board.
After McEwen went three and out on their first offensive series of the second half, the Bulldogs were forced to punt on their ensuing drive before the turnover bug bit the Warriors again when return man Trevor Ratchford mishandled the kick and Williams Liles pounced on the ball to set up Cornersville at the McEwen 23.
The Bulldogs, however, were unable to capitalize on the opportunity, and lost the ball on downs at the 18 after picking up only five yards on their next four plays.
Following another Warrior punt, Cornersville advanced from their own 35 to the McEwen 15 early in the fourth quarter on the strength of a 14-yard run by McMahon and a Black 10-yard scamper. The Bulldogs once again came up empty in the red zone and ended up losing the ball on downs at the Warrior six-yard line.
That missed opportunity came back to haunt CHS, as McEwen engineered a 13-play, 94-yard drive that was capped by a Tummins one-yard touchdown plunge. Bryce Crowell then ran in the two-point conversion attempt to slice the deficit to 14-8 with 3:38 left in the contest.
Things got dicey for Cornersville a few moments later when the Warriors recovered an onside kick, but the Bulldog defense bowed it's neck and stopped McEwen on downs at the CHS 43.
After Cornersville went three and out on their next possession and were forced to punt with :44 left, Lutz completed a 43-yard pass to Isaiah Jackson on the final play of the game, but Crowell tackled the Warrior wide out as soon as he caught the ball at the Bulldog 20 to preserve the win for CHS.