Bulldogs advance to semifinals
Published 1:21 pm Saturday, November 21, 2015
by Bryce Phillips
Another one bites the dust.
The 13-0 Bulldogs rushed past the Grace Christian Rams, 61-21, to advance on to the TSSAA 1-A Playoff Semifinals, where they will face Marion County at home next Friday.
The ’Dogs’ attack centered on a ground assault as they picked up 485 yards of rushing, with Adam McClain picking up 228 yards on 19 carries, while Jerry Lunsford tacked on 211 yards also on 19 carries. McClain had three touchdowns, while Lunsford recorded five.
“It is awesome,” McClain said about defeating the Rams, who eliminated the ’Dogs during last year’s playoffs. “They came in and beat us last year. We came in here and executed our game plan really well. We played hard and got the win.”
QB Coby Jones tacked on 112 yards of passing to give the Bulldogs 597 yards of total offense.
Jacob Chambers led in receiving, with 51 yards on 3 catches, while Jared Wiltshire had 34 on four catches.
After the game, as the Hampton Bulldogs head coach Mike Lunsford talked to his Bulldogs, who had gathered around their coach. He acknowledged how big the win was, but gave the ’Dogs a word of caution.
“We can’t be satisfied,” he said. “I love ya, and we played our butts off. But we’ve got two more wins to be 15-0. We can’t have any problems and lack of preparation. We have to be perfect.”
The Bulldogs answered their coach with loud “yes sirs” and cheers.
For the Bulldogs, things just started right.
After a bouncing and wobbling squib kick by Adam McClain to kick off the game, the Grace Christian Rams started with the ball on their own 1-yard line. And after five plays, the Bulldogs brought down the Rams’ quarterback Austin Kirby in the end zone for a safety, putting them up 2-0 early in the first quarter.
After receiving the safety punt, the Bulldogs sat up shop on the Rams’ 36, and didn’t stay there long as Hampton’s Coby Jones scrambled into the end zone on the first play. And with Trevor Waycaster booting in the extra point, the Dogs went up 9-0 with 10:35 left in the first quarter.
The Rams answered with a 16-yard TD run from No.31 to move the score to 9-7 in the first quarter.
After the kickoff, the Bulldogs had the ball on the Rams’ 46 and in six plays, they were in the end zone again with Adam McClain pushing in from three yards out. Hampton converted the two-point conversion to go up 17-7 over the Rams with 4:38 left in the first period.
The Rams’ next drive ended prematurely as Jones picked off a pass to put his team on Grace’s 44. A 19-yard pass from Jones to Jacob Chambers on third and 23 moved the Bulldogs to the Rams’ 36. Now fourth and two, McClain drove up field on a 35-yard run to the 5-yard line. On the next play, Jerry Lunsford fumbled the ball, which rolled into the end zone, before Hampton lineman Caleb Wilson dove onto the ball to give the Bulldogs a touchdown. The PAT was no good, giving the Bulldogs a 23-7 lead heading into the second quarter.
In the second period, the ’Dogs picked up two more TDs, both of which came from the legs of Lunsford, who ran in 7- and 5-yard TDs. With the Rams picking up a TD late in the second, the teams went to the locker rooms, with Hampton leading 36-21.
After halftime, the Bulldogs received the kick. And after a 60-yard drive in nine plays, the Bulldogs were in the end zone again, with Lunsford rushing in from 17 yards out. The PAT was no good, putting Hampton up 42-21.
The Bulldogs kept on trucking as they recovered an onside kick after the touchdown. Starting from the Rams’ 43, the ’Dogs scored in four plays as Lunsford and McClain swapped carrying the ball. The drive was capped off with a 6-yard touchdown run from McClain.
The Rams finally got the ball after the Bulldogs’ touchdown. After a lengthy drive, Grace turned the ball over on downs after going for it on fourth and two.
The ’Dogs took advantage with Lunsford speeding in from 65 out to put the Bulldogs up 54-21 early in the fourth quarter. The fans got loud, knowing the Bulldogs were just a quarter away from a big quarterfinal game.
On the Rams’ next drive, Nathan Norris picked off Kirby on Grace’s first play. But the Bulldogs’ drive after the pick ended with a fumble.
Late in the fourth, the Bulldogs forced a fumble on their own 14, and in two plays they scored again, with McClain marathoning in from 77 yards out. Waycasters’ kick was good to give the Bulldogs’ their final 61-21 win.
There is some buzz floating around that this year’s Bulldogs might be the best. But when asked about the talk, McClain had a humble answer.
“I don’t know about that,” he said with a grin. “There have been some great teams at Hampton, and I am glad to be a part of the tradition.”