Bulldogs explode early, cruise to win over Vikings
The wait was finally over for the Cornersville Bulldogs, who took the field in Unionville for the season opener versus the Community Vikings Friday night and they didn’t miss a beat in a 41-20 win.
“Honestly, I've been very anxious to get back to Friday night lights, because I've been interested in seeing how this team would come out in the first game of the season,” Cornersville coach Gerard Randolph said. “I was pleased for the most part of how we played for most of the first half, and it was great to get some young guys in for the entire second half.”
The Class A state runnerup Bulldogs came in at number three in the initial Associated Press’ Top 10 Poll of the season, behind title holder Greenback and perennial favorite South Pittsburg, who both won their season openers.
“I'm excited for the program to get the notoriety behind the rankings, but we all know it’s how you finish at the end of the year that means the most,” Randolph stated. “We will take it one practice and one game at a time, and hopefully good things will happen for us on each Friday night.”
It was the Bulldog defense that sparked the win at Unionville as they stopped five Community fourth down tries in the first half.
“What a boost that is for the entire team,” Randolph said. “Our defensive staff put in a really solid game plan to stop Community's spread attack, and our guys did a good job of bringing a lot of hats to the ball on the defensive side.”
“It's always fun watching your team get after it on the defensive side of the ball. I'm a firm believer that to give yourself a chance to win, you have to be able to play really good defensively.”
The Bulldogs offense fed off the defensive effort and put points on the board every time they touched the ball in the first half to take a commanding 41-0 lead at the intermission.
“I think we had a good, productive night on offense,” Randolph said. “I'm big on ball control and moving the chains.”
Cameron Whitaker got things going with an 73-yard touchdown run before Trenten Warren scored twice on close range runs as the Bulldogs took a 21-0 lead after the first quarter.
“The guys came ready to play tonight,” Randolph said. “Our offensive line did a great job of opening running lanes for all the running backs and I think our defense came in and flew around to the football, and made it hard for Community to have any success on the offensive side of the ball.”
Early in the second quarter, Bulldog quarterback Henlee Mitchell hooked up with Eli Woodard on a 59-yard catch and run to daylight for a 27-0 lead.
“I thought for the most part when we needed to throw the ball that Henlee Mitchell did a good job of giving our receivers a chance to catch a good ball,” Randolph said. “We are going to have to be able to throw the ball some this year to keep teams from loading the box up on us.”
The Vikings were in a big hole and tried to come back with the passing game, but two second quarter interceptions led to a pair of 22-yard touchdown runs by Eli Woodard at the 8:26 mark and by Brady Calahan with 30 seconds remaining in the first half.
“Turnovers will get you beat quicker than anything,” Randolph said. “Defensively, we talk a lot about creating turnovers. If you can create turnovers it increases your chance to come out on top at the end.”
Cornersville finished with 245 yards on the ground in the contest with Whitaker leading the way with 92 yards on just three carries, while Eli Woodard touched the rock four times for 53 yards.
Brady Calahan had six carries for 44 yards, Rhett Woodard rushed it three times for 27 yards, and Wes Calahan had five carries for 23 yards.
“The offensive line did a good job of opening up running lanes for our backs and it was also good to see our running backs hitting the holes hard and running downhill at a high level,” Randolph said.
The Bulldogs return to Frog Bottom this week to take on an Eagleville squad that pasted Huntland 56-26 on opening night behind senior standout quarterback Ethan Cobb, who had nine carries for 94 yards and completed 9-out-of-13 passing attempts for 143 yards and four total TDs.
“Ethan Cobb is a true dual threat guy,” Randolph said. “He can throw and run with the best of them, and he has some really good weapons to support him.
Trevor Griffin caught three Cobb passes for 73 receiving yards and a score, while Josh Stout rushed for 171 yards on just seven carries and scored four touchdowns.
The Eagles handed Cornersville their lone regular season setback last season at Eagleville in Week 2 and Randolph and the Bulldogs would like nothing more than to return the favor this week at Frog Bottom.
“We would like nothing more than to take care of Eagleville this year on our home turf,” Randolph said. “We felt like we didn't play Bulldog football like we needed to last year when we were at their place.” “We are looking forward to the challenge this week and we hope all of Bulldog Nation will come out and cheer us on Friday night.”
Cornersville 20 21 0 0-41
Community 0 0 8 12-20
Cornersville — Cameron Whitaker 73 run (Jackson Williams kick) 8:44.
Cornersville — Trenton Warren 1 run (Williams kick) 5:14.
Cornersville — Warren 3 run (kick blocked) 0:38.
Cornersville — Eli Woodard 59 pass from Henlee Mitchell (Williams kick) 8:47.
Cornersville — Woodard 22 run (Williams kick) 8:26.
Cornersville — Brady Calahan 22 run (Williams kick) 0:30.
Community — Landon Langley 9 run (Zander Monroe 2pt. run) 1:41.
Community — Nick Basso 5 run (run failed) 2:55.
Community — Garrett Gochee 14 pass from Monroe 0:00.
Total Offense: Cornersville 315, Community 276
Rushing: Cornersville 245, Community 119
Passing: Cornersville 70, Community 157
Penalties: Cornersville 4-40, Community 4-35
Turnovers: Cornersville 1, Community 3
First Downs: Cornersville 11, Community 16
Passing: Henlee Mitchell 3-4-69-TD, Jackson Farlar 1-3-1.
Rushing: Cameron Whitaker 3-92-TD, Eli Woodard 4-53-TD, Brady Calahan 6-44-TD, Rhett Woodard 3-27, Wes Calahan 5-23, Trenten Warren 3-6-TD, Farlar 4-1, Caden Pique 1-(-1).
Receiving: Eli Woodard 1-59-TD, Peyton Finch 1-6, Blake Pickett 1-4, Garrett Alder 1-1.
PAT: Jackson Williams 5-for-5.
Punting: Warren 1-41, Finch 1-21.
Kickoff: Warren 1-12.
Tackles: Woodard 6.5, Warren 4.5 (TFL), Devin Baus 4, Wes Calahan 4, Rhett Woodard 4, Ethan Courtemanche 3, Finch 3, Michael Bungay 3 (TFL), CJ Coble 3 (TFL), Nash Bouchard 3, Eli Welch 2 (TFL), Sabastian Smith 2, Brady Calahan 1.5 (.5 TFL), Whitaker (INT), TJ Robinson 1, Tracey Woodard 1, Jacob Brooks 1, Jackson Mitchell 1, Cameron Estes 1, Garrett Alder 1, Devin Massengill 0.5, Trace Griest 0.5 (.5 TFL), Trenton Posey 0.5, Blake Pickett (INT).