Noggin’ knocker… Hampton battle past Warriors into driver’s seat, 28-0
BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
HAMPTON – It was another classic battle between two county rivals looking to make their push toward a Region 1-2A championship as Hampton and Happy Valley butted heads for 48 minutes before the Bulldogs used three second-half scores to pull away for a 28-0 victory.
Giving and taking
The opening quarter was a tale of two teams that wanted to stake themselves to the lead but also a quarter where promising drives ultimately ended in a turnover, giving the ball over on downs, or punting the football away.
Neither team could get the traction needed to put any points on the board in the quarter as the war was in the trenches with neither team willing to give an inch and the offenses not taking advantage of opportunities.
Bulldogs strike first
The second quarter started much like the first one ended as neither team could manage to find the end zone in the opening eight minutes off the scoreboard.
It was the Bulldogs who would strike first, however, when junior quarterback Conor Jones called his own number and after making a nifty move on the Warrior defense turned the corner and raced 19 yards to paydirt with 3:02 left in the first half.
Michael Harrison’s point-after was straight and true as the Bulldogs took a 7-0 advantage to the locker room at the break.
Skies open during break
The rain started falling steadily during intermission and fell just enough to make the turf and football wet for both teams coming out of the locker room.
Neither team could put anything together to seriously threaten the opposing team’s goal line in the third quarter as the final 12 minutes appeared to be setting up for a nailbiter for both benches and their fans in the stands.
Bulldogs break free of the leash
The Bulldogs got all the momentum they needed early in the fourth quarter when Jones once again called his number and broke through the Warrior defense into the end zone on a three-yard rushing touchdown.
Harrison’s boot put the Bulldogs on top 14-0.
Hampton wasn’t finished there as the lead seemed to propel the defense as the Bulldogs pinned their ears back and came hard after Happy Valley quarterback Eli Ayers and running back Matthew Bahn shutting down anything the Warriors tried to do.
Jones found the end zone for the third time in the game when the dual-threat quarterback scampered into the end zone once again from 11 yards out to give the Bulldogs a comfortable lead with 6:21 left in the contest.
For good measure, Ty McElyea bullied his way into the end zone from the 20 to give the Bulldogs their final margin of victory when Harrison’s kick sailed perfectly through the uprights.
Lunsford will take the win
“We kept making mistakes and putting ourselves behind the eight ball,” said Hampton head coach Michael Lunsford. “We were getting penalties and getting in long-distance situations and having to try to recover them.
“We fumbled down there on the one-yard line just making critical mistakes that will kill you and that’s what we keep preaching.”
The Bulldogs will travel next week to another county rival when they make the trip up to Roan Mountain to take on the Highlanders. Meanwhile, the Warriors will be back on Warrior Hill to host Unicoi County.
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