Tense battle leads to win for Bulldogs, 56-30
Published 9:27 am Monday, September 28, 2015
In typical fashion, the Highlanders and the Bulldogs gave the crowd at J.C. Campbell Stadium a show, and in the end, the Bulldogs were able to grab a 56-30 win, advancing their win-streak in the series to 11.
The first half was an offensive battle, with the two squads posting eight touchdowns in the first half. As the teams headed into halftime, the Bulldogs (5-0, 2-0) led, 36-24.
In quick fashion, the Highlanders (4-2, 2-0) got on board on their first drive. After a 48-yard run by Colby Birchfield, the Highlanders found themselves on the Bulldogs’ five-yard line, and in two plays, Whitehead punched the ball in from one yard out. With the two-point conversion good, the Highlanders were on top 8-0.
The Bulldogs didn’t take long to answer on their first drive. In three plays Hampton entered paydirt, after QB Coby Jones connected a 42-yard TD pass to Jerry Lunsford.
On their next the drive, the Highlanders were forced to punt setting Hampton up on their own 2. The Dogs pushed down to the Cloudland 41, before Jones found Lunsford again for a 41 yard pass. With the two-point no good, the Bulldogs went ahead 14-8.
After getting the ball on their own 39, the Highlanders capitalized on their next drive. After nine plays, Whitehead picked up a fumbled snap and sped to the endzone from 17 yards out. The Highlanders pushed in the two-point conversion to take a 16-14 in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs, however, answered on their next drive, with Lunsford rushing a 7-yard TD to put the Bulldogs back on top 22-16.
The Hampton crowd’s excitement didn’t last long as Cloudland’s Colby Birchfield rushed in a 45-yard TD on the next drive, and with the two-point conversion good, the Highlanders took a 24-22 lead.
Keeping with the flow of the game, the Bulldogs scored again, with Adam McClain pushing in a 8-yard TD rush. With the two-point conversion no good, the ’Dogs found themselves leading 28-24 in the second quarter.
On Cloudland’s next drive, the Hampton defense finally found their footing, stopping the Highlanders on a fourth and three play on the Bulldogs’ 21.
“That was excruciating for the them,” Jones said about Hampton’s stop. “We had to get that stop. We told each other, ‘This stop right here will turn the ballgame around.’
“We got the stop, and it did turn the ballgame around,” Jones added.
In three plays, the Bulldogs took advantage of the turnover, with McClain scrambling in from 12 yards out for the last TD of the first half.
In the second half, the Bulldogs got on board first with a 14-yard run from Lunsford.
Cloudland’s drive after the Bulldogs’ TD ended in a turnover on downs, allowing Hampton to score again, with Jones scoring on a 23-yard touchdown.
Cloudland scored their last touchdown in the fourth quarter, with Whitehead punching in from seven yards out to make the score 50-30.
The Bulldogs scored one last time before time ran out, with Lunsford getting in from one yard out, after a 46-yard run from McClain to put the Bulldogs on the one.
On the Bulldogs’ side of the ball, Hampton finished the night with 572 yards of offense, with Jones recording roughly 227 yards of passing and 129 yards rushing.
Lunsford finished the night with 128 yards receiving and 92 yards rushing.
McClain provided 124 yards rushing.
On Cloudland’s side of the field, the Highlanders finished the night with 382 yards of total offense, 358 yards coming from rushing. Birchfield had 178 yards rushing, while Whitehead recorded 164 yards of rushing.
“I am excited at the fact that we were able to put up 30 points against Hampton,” Cloudland coach Brock Pittman said. “We just don’t have the depth to stay with people.”
On a night were every kick off was either a squib or an onsides kick, the fans were wondering what was going on. Well for Hampton, the reason was Birchfield and Whitehead, Hampton coach Mike Lunsford said.
“They have ran it back almost every time some one has kicked it to them,” he said. “And I am not as dumb as a lot fans might think I am. I was not going to kick them the ball.”
Next week, the Bulldogs head to Happy Valley, while the Highlanders travel to Unaka.