Jr. Bulldogs can’t fend off Chargers

Published 11:42 am Wednesday, October 18, 2017

By Larry N. Souders

It was a tale of two halves according to Hampton Bulldogs head coach Alex Payne, as the Bulldogs fell to the Chargers of Colonial Heights 33-14 Tuesday at J.C. Campbell Stadium.

With the loss, the Bulldogs finished the season as runners-up in the East Tennessee Area 1 Class AA football.
“Boys, I just want to thank you, I love you,” Coach Payne told his team after the game. “It’s been a great season. I know that doesn’t help right now, but in two or three days it will. You go out of here with your heads held high, because you got where no one else has gone in a long time around here.”
Once again the Bulldogs were in a defensive struggle in the first quarter. After taking the opening kickoff and moving the ball across midfield, the drive would be stalled by a holding penalty. Hampton’s defense stopped the Chargers drive with a three-and-out, and the Bulldogs were in business.
Running back Conor Jones hit up the middle for 11 yards, and on the very next play, Morgan Lyons rumbled 69 yards to the house with 54 seconds left in the quarter to put the Bulldogs up by six. A pass from quarterback Avery Hill to Logan Whitehead made it 8-0 at the end of one.
“We build our offense around our two great backs, Morgan Lyons and Conor Jones,” Payne said. “Avery Hill is a good leader, good quarterback, and he’s done a good job for us.”
Early in the second, the Chargers scored on a quarterback draw by Brody Ratliff with 6:27 left in the quarter, but the 2-point conversion failed to make the score 8-6.
Colonial Heights recovered the ensuing onside kick and quickly drove down the field with Ratliff scoring on a 2-yard keeper. Once again the Chargers failed to convert on the 2-point try.
The Chargers again tried the onside kick, but this time the Bulldogs were ready, and Ronnie Showman recovered the ball on the 47-yard line.
The drive nearly stalled but on a fourth down play Lyons picked up 5 yards for the first down. Later in the drive, Lyons once again took the ball for 5 yards, but this time it put the Bulldogs in the end zone giving Hampton a 14-12 lead at the half.
At the start of the second, the Chargers took the opening kickoff but fumbled the ball away to Hampton.
“We got a fumble recovery and had a chance to go up two scores and didn’t convert, that was the turning point of the game,” coach Payne said.
The Chargers scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to seal the deal.
“We had a great offensive line this year,” Payne said. “I’d like to point out Ryan Crumley, who came down from Little Milligan, McKinley Kuhn and Hunter Perkins, who was out with a broken arm for tonight’s game. But it didn’t affect the outcome of the game, but his play does make a difference on our team.
“Andon Hughes made a difference on both the offensive line and as a tackle on defense,” Payne added. “Thomas Mathes, a fullback moved to tackle on two days notices for us tonight and helped us out there.”

Star Photo/Larry N. Souders
Hampton running back Morgan Lyons (23) crashes through the line on his way to scoring on a 69 yard run with just 54 seconds left in the first quarter.

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Payne also gave a lot of credit for the Bulldogs success this year to his assistant coaches which include offensive coordinator Jason Hill and coaches Jason Davenport, Todd Hill, and Dennis Ward.