Standout season for Hampton Bulldogs comes to an end

Published 1:51 pm Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Hampton student section chants "We are proud of you" as the clock ran out during Friday night's loss to Marion County, 55-17.

The Hampton student section chants “We are proud of you” as the clock ran out during Friday night’s loss to Marion County, 55-17.

In front of one of the largest crowds to ever fill the J.C. Campbell Stadium, the Bulldogs fought the Marion County Warriors for four quarters during the semifinal round of the TSSAA Playoffs.

However, when the dust settled the Warriors had won 55-17, bringing a close to Hampton’s big season. The Bulldogs closed things out with a 13-1 record.

After the game, the Hampton community was out on the field supporting and hugging the players, which was something that QB Coby Jones was thankful for.

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“It is just awesome when anything bad happens or anything good happens they are right there with you,” he said. “I thank the Lord for letting us have the season that we did and letting us be as successful as we were.”

With the loss, came the close to the seniors’ high school football careers at Hampton, and according to Jones, his year on the Hampton football field has been a big part of his life.

“It has been unlike anything else I have experienced,” he said. “It took a lot of work and time, but it has been the best year of my life.”

The loss may have been tough for the Hampton community, but there was a silver lining. With Jones on the sidelines due to an early game injury, sophomore QB Jason Russell took to the field, and he made a good impression on a lot fans and coaches. The sophomore rushed for 106 yards on 11 carries, showing what the future of Hampton football may have in store.

“He is out here every day working hard at practice,” Jones said “He does a great job, and I was impressed with him tonight.”

With a blocked punt and two Hampton fumbles, Friday night’s story can be told in misfortunes. On their first drive, the Bulldogs went three and out and was forced to punt which was blocked and recovered by the Warriors. That set them up on Hampton’s 49-yard line, and after nine plays the Warriors were in the endzone, with QB Logan Walters running in from 30 yards out. And with the PAT good, Marion County was up 7-0 early in the first.

On their second drive of the night, they marched from their own 30 to Marion’s 27, before Jones connected a pass to Jerry Lunsford, who scrambled up to the 1-yard line, where he was hit forcing the ball out. Marion recovered and sat up shop on their own one. In two plays, Marion’s Walters was tackled in the endzone, giving them a safety. The score moved to 7-2 in the first period.

After receiving the punt after the safety, the Bulldogs had to punt themselves after going three and out.

Marion scored on their next drive, with Walters’ pushing from one yard, after a 38-yard drive by the Warriors. With the PAT good, Marion took a 14-2 lead early in the second quarter.

On their fourth drive, Hampton pushed up to Marion’s 15, before Russell fumbled, giving Marion the ball on the 10-yard line. After nine plays, the Warriors capitalized on the fumble, with Walters running a 47-yard TD.

However, Hampton answered with one play on their next drive, with Jones connecting a pass to Nathan Norris, who scooted to the endzone for a 65-yard touchdown reception. Trevor Waycaster booted through the extra point to make the score 21-9 in the second quarter. Jones ended the night with 174 yards passing on 13 throws.

Marion County posted two more touchdowns in the first half to make the score 34-9 as the teams headed to the locker room.

The Warriors received the kick after the half, and scored on the first second half drive in eight plays, with Walters running in from three yards out to give his team a 41-9 lead.

Hampton answered on their next drive, scoring in nine plays with Lunsford running one in from 9-yards out.

Marion posted two more in the fourth to give them their final score.

Marion was led by Walters, who had 159 yards on 18 carries and five touchdowns.

Many of the Bulldogs kept their heads up after the loss. Head coach Mike Lunsford wanted his senior players to know they should not judge their big season off of one game.
“I hope they don’t remember this last game,” he said. “I hope they remember the first 13. There was a lot of accomplishments. All year long we didn’t make those mistakes. . . It was a tough one.”

Next week, Marion County will travel to Cookeville, where they will face off with Trezevant in the championship.