Bulldogs fall in road opener
MOUNT JULIET -- Cornersville's growing pains were fully evident Friday night.
The Bulldogs, opening their season on the road at Mt. Juliet Christian, fumbled seven times and gained only 99 yards in a 36-6 loss to the hosts.
Dakota Polk's 5-yard touchdown with 1:58 left in the game got the Bulldogs on the board, and helped them play a relatively even second half after struggling mightily before halftime.
The Saints, led by sophomore quarterback Alex Pitman, scored on all four of their first-half possessions and rolled to a 29-0 halftime lead.
"We started out ... well, I'll tell you, we're a young team and you could tell we play a lot of freshmen," first-year coach Gerard Randolph said. "I just told them in the second half, 'Let's just show some pride. Let's get out here and just try and make a ballgame out of it.' But we turned the ball over a lot and you just can do that against a good football team."
The Saints took advantage of Cornersville's youth. The Bulldogs' first fumble came three plays into the game, and gave MJCA the ball on the Bulldogs' 35.
Pitman and the Saints ran into a fourth-and-5 in the red zone, but went for it and converted on a 6-yard pass to Nate Green. Two plays later, Pitman hooked up with Will Samuels for a 7-yard touchdown pass.
The next time MJCA touched the ball, it drove eight plays in 75 yards, with Pitman and Samuels hooking up for a fourth-down scoring pass that covered 14 yards.
Pitman and Darius Hylick had touchdown runs in the second quarter to push the halftime lead to 29-0. Cornersville had only 27 yards in the half.
Pitman closed out the Saints' scoring in the second half with a 7-yard scoring run. Polk's touchdown capped a long drive that came when the clock was continuously running.
The Bulldogs, led by freshman quarterback Eli Woodard, finished with 99 total yards.
"Eli's going to be OK," Randolph said. "He's has his moments where he plays big football and then he has his moments where he looks like a freshman."
Tough opposing QB
The win marked the first time MJCA has won a season opener since 2005, and did so thanks in large part to Pitman. The sophomore shook off two early incompletions to finish 10 of 13 for 121 yards. He finished with two touchdown passes and two scoring runs.
"He's a quarterback who can run -- he's a true dual-threat quarterback," MJCA quarterback Dan Davis said. "He's one of the most intelligent guys in the school and he understands what we want him to do."
The Saints certainly impressed Randolph.
"I'll tell you, I've watched film on them from last year and this year, and they look like a totally different team," Randolph said. "After watching film, I was like, 'Wow.' That's a good ballclub. They're going to do some good things this year."
Cornersville plays host to Collinwood on Friday while MJCA visits Richland.
Cornersville 0 0 0 6--"6
MJCA 14 15 7 0--36
MJCA--Samuels 7 pass from Pitman (Willis kick), 8:15
MJCA--Samuels 14 pass from Pitman (Willis kick), 2:20
MJCA--Pitman 7 run (Green run), 8:28
MJCA--Hylick 1 run (Willis kick), 0:11
MJCA--Pitman 7 run (Willis kick), 2:43
Cornersville--Polk 5 run (run failed), 1:58
First downs 8 14
Rushes-Yards 29-73 33-135
Passing Yards 26 121
Passes 2-5-0 10-16-0
Fumbles-Lost 7-3 2-0
RUSHING--Cornersville, Polk 5-38, McMahon 5-25, Williams 8-17, Vanhooser 3-(-4), Woodard 5-(-11). MJCA, Collier 11-72, Pitman 11-33, Hylick 10-28, McLean 1-2.
PASSING--Cornersville, Woodard 2-5-0-26. MJCA, Pitman 10-13-0-121, Green 0-3-0-0.
RECEIVING--Cornersville, McMahon 1-15, Whitaker 1-11. MJCA, Samuels 4-67, Green 3-24, Sloan 2-17, Easton 1-13.