E.A. Sports Today

Dadeville turns up heat on Piedmont

Piedmont quarterback Tyler Lusk reaches down to cover a fumbled snap near the goal line on the Bulldogs' first possession of their Champions Challenge game with Dadeville Saturday.

Piedmont quarterback Tyler Lusk reaches down to cover a fumbled snap near the goal line on the Bulldogs’ first possession of their Champions Challenge game with Dadeville Saturday.

Tigers’ heavy pressure against Piedmont proves decisive in Champions Challenge


By Al Muskewitz

East Alabama Sports Today

MONTGOMERY — Dartavious Pearson scored two second-half touchdowns and Dadeville’s defense overwhelmed the line of scrimmage on Piedmont’s final possession to defeat the Bulldogs 14-8 Saturday in the exhibition Champions Challenge at Cramton Bowl.

Pearson, a junior, broke a scoreless tie on a 20-yard run on the final play of the third quarter. He extended the Tigers’ lead with a 6-yard run on their first possession of the fourth quarter.

He finished with 118 yards rushing on 16 carries. He had 86 in the second half.

“We knew coming into this game it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park,” Piedmont senior quarterback Tyler Lusk said. “We knew it was going to be hard, physical football. We played our best.”

The Bulldogs, preseason No. 2 in Class 3A, got on the board midway through the fourth quarter on Lusk’s 42-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Savage. Lusk then hit Austin Brazier for the two-point conversion to make it 14-8 with 5:53 to play.

They had a chance to win or tie at the end of regulation, but Dadeville, preseason No. 3 in 4A despite a young defense, ramped up the pressure in the final 75 seconds and threw Lusk for two big losses around two incomplete passes to end the threat.

It was hot enough on the Cramton Bowl’s artificial turf without Dadeville turning up the thermostat, but the Tigers made sure Lusk and the Bulldogs’ young offensive line never got comfortable.

Lusk was thrown for 76 yards in losses in the game, leading to Piedmont’s minus-19 yards of net rushing. He did manage to throw for 191 yards. Savage had 107 of it on four catches.

“They brought it a lot,” Lusk said of the pressure. “They were just jumping our snap count (and) getting back there faster than we could do something about it. They were playing like that the entire game, lights out. They were getting back there every snap.”

Until Pearson found the end zone at the end of the third quarter, the game seemed on track to be scoreless in regulation. But it’s not like the teams were without chances.

Piedmont took its first possession all the way to the Dadeville 1 and had first-and-goal. But the Tigers stuffed Dreek Thompson on first down, had a bad snap on second, threw Lusk for a loss on third and Lusk had his 21-yard field goal attempt blocked and recovered by Jaquan Alvies.

In addition to being credited with the blocked kick, Alvies had two of the Tigers’ 7.5 sacks and an interception.

“That was definitely a discouragement when we didn’t get that one in,” Piedmont coach Steve Smith said. “But overall you take it and learn from it. We’ve got to finish those drives off.”

Dadeville lined up for a 38-yard field goal attempt on the ensuing possession, but Zachary Sims’ attempt never got higher than a knee pad.

The Bulldogs had a touchdown called back in the second quarter. Savage had gotten behind the defense and Lusk found him for what would’ve been a 65-yard scoring strike, but the play was nullified by a holding penalty 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

“We just came out here to compete,” Savage said. “We came out here to win. We’re all right. We’ll bounce back. We’re just ready to practice again.”

Dadeville 14, Piedmont 8

Piedmont 0 0 0 8 — 8
Dadeville 0 0 6 8 — 14

D — Dartavious Pearson 20 run (kick failed)
D — Pearson 6 run (Cal Jones run)
P — C.J. Savage 42 pass from Tyler Lusk (Austin Brazier pass from Lusk)

Pied Dade
First downs 9 16
Rush-yards 28-(-19) 36-198
C-A-I 8-20-2 6-15-1
Pass yards 191 83
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Punts-avg 4-36.8 6-31.5
Penalties-yards 7-72 15-135

Piedmont junior defensive back Deven Hincy fills in his teammates on the details of his second-quarter interception. Below, on a hot day, manager Weston Kirk goes extra hard for his team.

Piedmont junior defensive back Deven Hincy fills in his teammates on the details of his second-quarter interception. Below, on a hot day, manager Weston Kirk goes extra hard for his team.

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