Bulldogs shatter losing streak
The Cornersville Bulldogs traveled to Lawrenceburg Friday night in desperate need of a win to keep its playoff hopes alive against first-year TSSAA football participants Summertown (2-6, 1-5) Eagles, who were coming off their first ever region win against the Richland Raiders a week prior.
The Bulldogs (2-5, 2-3) snapped a three-game losing streak by relying on a talented group of freshman to overcome the cold, rain and fight of the first year Eagles.
"This is a big win for us," coach Gerard Randolph said post game. "I told the guys they were do for a win, just to get our morale and confidence up. We needed that one going into a big game with Columbia Academy. Not that we were overlooking Summertown, but these guys have battled and faced a lot of adversity. I'm proud of the effort tonight."
The Bulldogs struggled on offense throughout the first half, battling a torrential downpour and trying to find a replacement for star running back Kolbe McMahon who was lost for the season with a torn ACL two weeks ago.
The Cornersville defense picked up the slack, only allowing the Summertown offense minimal gains en route to a first half defensive shut out.
"In the first half our offensive line wasn't doing that good and our running backs were pulling most of the yards," freshman tight end Peyton Finch said. "In the second half our line stepped up a notch and did just as good as everyone else."
The Bulldogs finally broke the tie early in the third quarter when Trenton Warren got Cornersville in a position to score on a 40-yard punt return. Freshman quarterback Eli Woodard broke loose for a 25-yard run to give the visitors a 6-0 lead.
The Eagles struck back immediately on a long touchdown pass to go up 8-6.
That would be the last Eagle lead of the night.
After a short pass to Finch and two runs by Woodard, Finch would redeem himself from an earlier drop by running over an Eagle defender on the way to a 54 yard reception from Woodard two yards shy of the end zone.
Trenton Warren would finish off the most productive drive of the night with a 2-yard plunge into the end zone.
"That first missed catch really got me down," Finch said. "I think that long pass really got me pumped up and ready to go."
The Bulldog defense seemed to feed off of the offense's ability to move the ball in the second half, coming up with two huge sacks to back the Eagles up to the end zone, forcing the home team to punt on the next possession.
The Bulldog fans got a glimpse of the future when McMahon's replacement Cam Whitaker, excited the crowd with runs of 10, 3 and 18 yards to set up a 7 yard touchdown run by Woodard to further the lead to 19-8 with 10 minutes remaining in the contest.
"Some of our players kind of stepped up with our star player out," Whitaker, another freshman, said. "We were kind of slow in the first half, but in the second half we made conversions on third and fourth down."
The Eagles made one last attempt at a comeback but a huge 10-yard sack by Adam Qualls sent Summertown reeling and Cam Whitaker finished them off when he came up with an interception.
The Bulldog offense was not finished hopping on the back of Woodard, who got Cornersville in scoring position with runs of 6 and 8 yards before Ben Taylor finished off the game with a 38 yard field goal.
"This was a big win for us," Woodard stated. "We couldn't convert on third or fourth down in the first half, but in the second half once we got that first score, we kept our foot on the pedal."
Randolph agreed with the young quarterback, saying, "At halftime as far as defensively, just echoing our calls across the formation and talking to each other. That's the biggest thing on defense is communicating with each other and I thought we did a better job of that in the second half."
Battle of Bulldogs
The Bulldogs will now turn their attention to a different Bulldog squad, Columbia Academy. The Bulldogs of CA (6-1, 6-0) are perched on top of the region standings with only one loss, a one-point defeat against top ranked D-II school Franklin Road Academy. The Bulldogs, with just two region wins could use this win for momentum in gaining a playoff spot.
"I think we need to practice real hard this week," Finch said. "Our line needs to step it up, our backs and everyone else."
"I'll tell them that they put their pants on one leg at a time just like us, they get coached up just like us," first year coach Randolph said. "I believe in our coaching staff, I believe in what we teach, and if they soak it up, they'll be great football players one day."
The game will be at home at 7:00 on Friday.
Cornersville 0 0 12 10-22
Summertown 0 0 8 0-8
Total Yards-Cornersville 171, Summertown 73.
Rushing-Cornersville 94, Summertown 20.
Passing-Cornersville 77, Summertown 53.
Cornersville-Eli Woodard 20-80-2TD, Cameron Whittaker 9-16, Trento Warren 11-10-TD, Will Vanhooser 1-0, Peyton Finch 5-(-7).
Cornersville-Eli Woodard 4-9-77.
Cornersville-Peyton Finch 3-65, Trenton Warren 1-12.
Turnovers-Cornersville 0, Summertown 4.
Intercepted by-Cornersville; Eli Woodard 1, Peyton Finch 1.
Cornersville-CJ Coble 4.5, Trenton Warren 4.5, Adam Qualls 3.5 (2 sacks), Cameron Whittaker 3, Ben Taylor 3, Will Vanhooser 3, Austin Barron 3 (sack), Cayde Fitzgerald 2, Eli Woodard 1.5, Willie Lyles 1, Peyton Finch 1.