Bulldogs welcome Panthers in final conference clash

Published 12:47 pm Tuesday, October 11, 2022

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The Hampton Bulldogs have a chance to win their conference championship for the first time in three years when Cumberland Gap comes to J.C. Campbell Stadium on Friday night. The ‘Dogs come off a tough 48-40 loss to Gatlinburg-Pittman while the Panthers (2-5 overall) have not won a game this season against a Tennessee football team.
Cumberland Gap has victories over Thomas Walker (Va.) and Lynn Camp (Ky.). The Panthers have scoring punch, however, averaging 30.9 points per game and the Bulldogs defense will have to contain RB Jacob Brown, the Panthers leading rusher.
“They run a different style of offense that will make us have to play disciplined,” Bulldogs head coach Michael Lunsford said. “We’ll have to do a good job of containing them. This is an important game for us, we haven’t won the conference in the last two years and we want that number one position. That is just the beginning though that is where we start.”
Defensively is where the Panthers are lacking as they give up an average of 35.3 points per game despite having a top defensive tackle in senior Nik McCorkell, who is a 265-pound wrecking ball.
The Dogs rallied late against Pittman after falling into a 27-12 halftime deficit. The Highlanders extended to a 48-24 early in the fourth quarter but senior RB Levi Lunsford scored two late touchdowns and junior quarterback Dylan Trivett scored another as Hampton closed to 48-40 with 1:32 remaining.
“We played a good football team,” Lunsford said. “Their only loss was to Alcoa but we need to get better. There are plenty of areas where we can get better.”
Hampton has weapons galore offensively and they may have found yet another one in sophomore Dominique Burleson who rushed for 98 yards on five carries in Gatlinburg.
“He’s a kid whose potential was always there,” Lunsford said. “We tried to get him some reps early but he had a fumble and we need to be able to trust him in tough situations. I think he is getting there.”
Hampton scores at a 37.7 clip offensively and defensively the ‘Dogs are stingy giving up just 13.8 points a game and have recorded three shutouts, including 49-0 and 37-0 conference wins over Happy Valley and South Greene respectively.
Another whitewashing on Friday night would give Hampton (6-1 overall) the conference title without having surrendered a single point to their conference rivals.
Game time is set for 7:30 pm.

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