Bulldogs score first win

Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Cornersville's Trenton Warren (2) tackles the GCA ball carrier in the end zone for a safety on the Lions' first possession of the game. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

In a wild affair at Franklin, the Cornersville Bulldogs picked up their first win of the season as they took a 35-28 coast-to-coast win over Grace Christian Academy (GCA).

"We are going to face adversity, it's going to happen in football," Cornersville coach Gerard Randolph said. "You have to be able to respond to it and the guys did a good job of that tonight."

Close call

But it wasn't easy as the Bulldogs had to overcome some fourth quarter mistakes that turned into 21 points for the Lions and the game ended with GCA tackled at the one-inch line as time ran out.

"I'll tell you what, when you get control of the game you better keep it and keep pressing," Randolph said. "We can't let people back in by making the mistakes we have made the last two games."

Sophomore Eli Woodard, who had to be moved to a running back position with the loss of Kolby McMahon in Week One, had a monster game for the Bulldogs, rushing for 327 yards and two touchdowns.

Hard running

"That was our focus, we saw some things on the game film that we could exploit some areas on their defense and our game plan was to run the ball hard and be physical up front," Randolph said.

Woodard also came up with a diving interception that ended the first quarter and he returned a fumble for a touchdown that gave Cornersville a 15-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Cornersville turned the ball over five times in the contest with its first miscue coming when Cameron Whittaker fumbled on the opening drive of the game deep in GCA territory.

Trenton Warren lifted his teammate up on the next play when he tackled GCA running back Gavin Ford in the end zone for a safety to give Cornersville a 2-0 lead.

Dakota Polk (19) picks off a GCA pass in the first quarter.

After the punt by GCA after the safety, Cornersville gave the ball back to the Lions on downs, but once again the defense stood up when Dakota Polk picked off Ty Davidson on the next play.

Interception

Not to outdone in the turnover battle, Gavin Ford stepped on front of a Henlee Mitchell pass two plays into the Cornersville drive and returned the ball to the GCA 39-yard line.

The Lions moved backwards due to penalties and when they had to punt on fourth down, a bad snap forced the kicker's knee to the ground and the Bulldogs took over at the GCA 40-yard line.

Mitchell hooked up with Ryan Prosser for a 38-yard pass and catch on the next snap and Woodward finished off the fast scoring drive with a two-yard plunge into the end zone.

Ben Taylor missed the extra point try, but the Bulldogs had an 8-0 lead with 4:48 remaining in the first quarter.

Lion tamer

The Lions put together a nice drive on the ensuing offensive series, marching all the way to Cornersville territory before Woodard came up with a diving interception on an errant pass.

The Bulldogs were forced to punt, but took advantage of some more good fortune when Taylor's kick was fumbled and scooped up by Woodard, who ran for a touchdown.

Taylor did not miss an extra point the rest of the game as the Bulldogs led 15-0 with 8:08 remaining in the first half.

The Lions fought back, driving to the Cornersville 33-yard where sophomore Carson Ford ran for a touchdown and Kaden Nordhoff added the PAT, making it 15-7.

Whittaker steps up

Whittaker came up with a big special teams play when he returned the ensuing kickoff to the GCA 27-yard line and six plays later, Whittaker scored on a four-yard TD run, giving the Bulldogs a 22-7 lead with 3:28 left in the first half.

The Dawgs kept the 15-point lead at the end of the first half and proceeded to stop GCA on a fourth down play at their own 31-yard line on the first drive of the second half.

Cornersville's Eli Woodard (7) runs for a 61-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter in the Bulldogs' 38-27 win over GCA Friday night.

The Bulldogs cashed in, going ahead 29-7 when Woodard capped off the scoring drive with an 8-yard TD run, giving Cornersville what seemed to be a comfortable 29-7 lead.

GCA tried to come back, driving to the Cornersville 2-yard line, but a fumble and an ensuing personal foul call on the Lions gave the Bulldogs the pigskin with three seconds left in the third quarter.

Handing it over

The Bulldogs gave the ball back on a fumble with 7:34 remaining in the game and GCA turned the miscue into seven points when Gavin Ford ran for a 41-yard TD less than a minute later, making it 29-14.

With 4:46 remaining in the contest, GCA's Kolby Alonzo scooped up a Bulldog fumble and raced 55 yards for a touchdown, slicing the Cornersville lead to 29-21.

Taylor was in the correct position on the kickoff return team and grabbed an attempted GCA pooch kick at the 39-yard and on the next snap, Woodard raced down the sidelines for a 61-yard touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 35-21 lead.

GCA would not fold the tent as the put together a scoring drive that was capped off on a 24-yard TD pass from Austin Amor to Nick Whitson, making it 35-28 with 2:54 remaining in the contest.

Threat stopped

GCA attempted an onside kick that was recovered by Whittaker at midfield, but the Bulldogs fumbled again deep in GCA territory with 46 ticks left on the game clock.

The referee signals no touchdown for the Lions on the last play of the game Friday night at Grace Christian School of Franklin.

The Lions threw seven straight passes that got them to the Cornersville 25-yard line where Amor threw a screen pass to Alonzo, who changed direction, cutting back to the middle of the field before cutting straight to the goal line where he was tackled inches short of a touchdown to end the wild affair.

"We have played in three tough games and I'll tell you what, we run and condition these guys every day," Randolph said. "Some people stop, but we continue to do it because we have to play four full quarters."

The Bulldogs (1-2, 1-0) host Region 4A foe Moore County (0-3, 0-1) for a Homecoming contest at Frog Bottom Friday night.

Cornersville has lost five straight to the Raiders with its last win over Lynchburg coming via a 36-16 home triumph in 2010.

"We will have to bring our 'A' game and eliminate these untimely mistakes and penalties we had tonight," Randolph said. "We will have a good week of practice and we will be alright."

Cornersville 8 14 7 6-35

GCA 0 7 0 21-28

Scoring plays

First quarter

Cornersville-Trenton Warren safety

Cornersville-Eli Woodard 2 run, PAT NG

Second quarter

Cornersville-Eli Woodard 15 fumble return, Ben Taylor PAT

GCA-Carson Ford 33 run, Kaden Nordhoff PAT

Cornersville-Cameron Whittaker 4 run, Taylor PAT

Third quarter

Cornersville-Woodard 8 run, Taylor PAT

Fourth quarter

GCA-Gavin Ford 41 run, Nordhoff PAT

GCA-Kolby Alonzo 55 fumble recovery, Nordhoff PAT

Cornersville-Woodard 61 run, Taylor PAT

GCA-Nick Whitson 24 pass from Austin Amor, Nordhoff kick

Total Offense

Cornersville 471, GCA 368

Penalties

Cornersville 11-100, GCA 6-50

Turnovers

Cornersville 5, GCA 4

First Downs

Cornersville 18, GCA 23

Cornersville

Passing-Henlee Mitchell 2-4-47-INT

Receiving-Ryan Prosser 1-38, Peyton Finch 1-9

Rushing-Eli Woodard 26-327-2TD, Cameron Whittaker 17-83-TD, Trenton Warren 5-16, Dakota Polk 2-1, Jose Minor 1-(-3)

Tackles-CJ Coble 7.5, Eli Woodard 4.5 (INT), Trenton Warren 3.5, Cameron Whittaker 2.5, Devin Baus 2.5, Brock Powers 2.5 (.5 sack), Dakota Polk 2.5 (INT), Blake Pickett 1.5, Brock Powers 1.5, Ryan Prosser 1, Ben Taylor 1 (.5 sack), Bryan Giles 1, Houston Williams .5, Reece Morton .5, Andrew Brady .5