2021 Class 2-A BlueCross Bowl… Bulldogs fall short, claims state runner-up trophy
Published 11:13 pm Monday, December 6, 2021
BY NIC MILLER
CHATTANOOGA – On November 26th, the Hampton community was on top of the world after the Bulldogs defeated Trousdale County to advance to the 2021 2A BlueCross Bowl in Chattanooga – so much so that there is now one less goalpost at JC Campbell Stadium.
And on Saturday, what felt like a dream became a reality for the Bulldogs, with the team from Carter County playing 48 more minutes inside of Finley Stadium against the Chargers of Westview, a gold football and a chance to become the first state championship team in school history.
It was Hampton who would take control of the pigskin first and as usual the Bulldogs hit Westview with the ground and pound attack that fans are used to, eventually taking the ball down to the eight where quarterback Conor Jones would cap off the drive, finding the promised land after cutting it outside. The two-point try would be good, with Jones accounting for all eight points in the drive.
It was a possession that lasted a majority of the first period, spanning almost 10 minutes and giving the Bulldogs an 8-0 advantage with two minutes to go in the first.
But the Chargers wasted no time on their first possession, as future Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Ty Simpson would find Quincy Hamilton from 45 yards out on the second play of the drive. The conversion attempt was no good, with the Bulldogs still in front late in the quarter.
Disaster struck for Hampton on their next drive, as a Morgan Lyons fumble would be recovered by the Chargers. And one play later, Westview was in the end zone again with Simpson finding his receiver Garner Anderson, this time from the 34 yard line. Hamilton would scamper across the goal line, making it a 14-8 line in favor of the Chargers with just under two minutes to go in the first.
When the Bulldogs took over once more, it was the air attack that would become prevalent with Jones using his arm to score, threading the needle on a pass that would find Lyons in the end zone. The two-point try was unsuccessful, knotting things up at 14 apiece.
On the Chargers ensuing possession, it would be Simpson switching things up, using his legs to take the ball 55 yards to the Hampton one-yard line, where he would finish things off with a rushing touchdown. This time, Westview would go with the extra point, making it a 21-14 game with just under nine minutes to go in the half.
After stalling out in their next drive, the Bulldogs gave the ball back to the Chargers on a drive where Simpson would not be involved in the scoring play for the first time in the contest. It was running back Javion Goins who would score this time, taking the ball across the goal line from 19 yards away, giving Westview a 28-14 advantage with four to go before the break.
After the intermission, Westview would receive the ball first in a drive that would showcase their first fourth down of the contest. It was also a drive that showcased the first time the Chargers have come away empty-handed, with Simpson throwing an interception to Chance Point, giving the ball back to Hampton.
And the teams would trade blows, with Jones throwing his first interception on the ensuing possession, with Anderson taking the ball to the 11 yard line where Simpson would call his own number again to increase the advantage to that of 35-14 midway through the third.
The next drive for Hampton would mark another interception for Jones, when a pass would be tipped and grabbed by the Chargers’ Goins who returned the pigskin 29 yards for the score, making it a 42-14 ball game in favor of Westview only a minute later.
With less than a minute remaining in the third period, Hampton would be stopped just short on a fourth and one inside the red zone, giving Simpson and the Chargers another shot on offense. Westview would take advantage of this opportunity, scoring once again, this time on a 2 yard rush by Dearca Nicholson. The score with nine minutes to go in the contest was now a lopsided one, 48-14 in favor of Westview.
There was little action for the remainder of the game, with Simpson throwing a one yard touchdown pass to Cade Spaulding to make it a 55-14 affair in favor of the Chargers with four minutes to go, a score that would carry over to the final line, with Hampton leaving Chattanooga as the Tennessee Class 2-A Runner-Up.
“I don’t know that I can put how special this season was into words, and I’m sure that there’s going to be a lot of emotions for quite a while. I am just so proud of my guys and everything they did not only today but the whole season.
“Westview’s quarterback is going to Alabama so he’s definitely a heck of a football player and we knew it was going to be a challenge. I let the boys know that I love them and that I was just as proud of them at the end of the game as I was at the beginning; I’ll be there for these seniors for the rest of their lives, I don’t stop being their coach tonight,” said Bulldogs head coach Michael Lunsford.
In the win for the Chargers, Simpson threw for 99 yards and three touchdowns while going 5 for 10 with two interceptions, while his legs attributed for 181 yards and two scores.
For the Bulldogs, Jones threw for 109 yards and one score, all while going 11 for 18 on pass attempts. Jones also scored one time on the ground, amassing 53 yards while Levi Lunsford led the ground game with 66 yards.
Defensively, Jones led the team in tackles with eight, while Dylan Trivett and Chance Point both recorded interceptions on Simpson.
The Bulldogs time of possession was 37:36 compared to the Chargers’ 10:24.