Tigers get wood rocked by Hampton in round two of TSSAA playoffs
Published 12:55 am Saturday, November 13, 2021
BY NIC MILLER
ROCKWOOD – After shutting out Monterey in their 21-0 win in round one of the TSSAA playoffs last Friday, the Hampton Bulldogs traveled two and a half hours away to take on the Rockwood Tigers this week.
Rockwood received the kickoff to start things out, and it looked like it was going to be a shootout early as the Tigers would score on the second play from scrimmage, a 72-yard touchdown pass from Xadrian Fickey to Dom Moran. The extra point would be wide right, giving the home squad a 6-0 advantage with only a minute gone.
But the Bulldogs quickly answered marching from their own 35-yard line in an inaugural drive that would be capped off by a one-yard touchdown rush from quarterback Conor Jones. Michael Harrison’s point after would be true giving Hampton a 7-6 lead midway through one.
Late in the first period, Hampton took over for their second possession, one that would end in another one-yard touchdown run, this time from running back Levi Lunsford to give the team from Carter County a 14-6 lead.
Disaster struck for the Tigers on their next possession when Fickey would throw an interception caught by Jones who would take the pigskin down inside of the red zone to Rockwood’s 11-yard line.
From there Morgan Lyons would take things inside of the five-yard line before stepping out of bounds, where Jones would cross the goal line from three yards away to increase the advantage to 21-6 with half a minute left in the first stanza.
The scoring party continued for the Bulldogs in the second quarter when Hampton would begin at their own 33-yard line in a possession that saw Jones rush into the promised land yet again, this time from seven yards away to make it 28-6 halfway through the second quarter of play.
On the ensuing kickoff, Hampton tried for the onside kick and succeed, taking over again and coming away with another score, this time from running back Jonathan Greenwell, who would cross the goal line from nine yards out, trucking the defender on the way to give the Bulldogs a 34-7 advantage, one that would carry into the halftime break.
To start the second half, it would be Rockwood who struck first as Gerald Hannibal barreled his way into the end zone from seven yards away to cut the lead to 34-12 in favor of the visitors.
But just as they did to start the first half of play, the Bulldogs answered the Tiger touchdown with one of their own on the next possession, with Jones throwing for a touchdown this time, finding Ashton Hardin for a 17-yard score to make it a 40-12 ball game in favor of Hampton just before the start of the final stanza.
With a comfortable lead, all the Bulldogs had to do was run down the clock. And run down the clock they would, taking half of the final quarter away from the Tigers before putting the nail in the coffin with Brody Hicks taking the ball across the goal line from 10 yards out with six minutes to go, giving Hampton a 47-12 lead, implementing a running clock.
On the kickoff, Jaiden Hannibal took the kick 74 yards for the score, a touchdown that would pad the running back’s stats, cutting the Hampton lead to 47-18, a score that would become the final as the Bulldogs ride home happy and ready for round three.
In the win, Jones accumulated 100 yards on the ground and three rushing touchdowns as well as one passing score. Lunsford would end his night with 93 yards and one score, while running back Morgan Lyons would finish with 81 yards on the ground.
A dominating offensive performance for the Bulldogs, head coach Michael Lunsford spoke on his team and their ability to score so well in this one.
“The guys up front aren’t the pretty boys, and they aren’t the ones that are going to get all the attention, but I couldn’t be prouder of our offensive line tonight. The big thing right now is that we have more big bodies than other teams and we are just wearing everyone out.
“The best teams find ways to improve in the playoffs, get better each week, and are not satisfied with where they are at. I told the guys that we have to keep finding ways to get better next week and get back to work for next week’s game.”