E.A. Sports Today

Piedmont falls to No. 1 Leeds

Piedmont quarterback Tyler Lusk (R) rolls out to avoid the pressure of Leeds' Javier Burrows. In the cover photo, Leeds' quarterback Tadarryl Marshall accounted for four Green Wave touchdowns Thursday night. (Photos Special to East Alabama Sports Today)

Piedmont quarterback Tyler Lusk (R) rolls out to avoid the pressure of Leeds’ Javier Burrows. In the cover photo, Leeds’ quarterback Tadarryl Marshall accounted for four Green Wave touchdowns Thursday night. (Photos Special to East Alabama Sports Today)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

PIEDMONT — The color of the opponents’ uniforms were different and the ranking definitely was higher, but the storyline was sadly the same for Piedmont Thursday night.

The Bulldogs couldn’t run the ball and had trouble stopping the run. The result was a 42-18 loss to Leeds (6-0), the unanimous No. 1 team in Class 4A.

On a night they sported new uniforms and helmets, the Bulldogs (3-2) were held to only 28 yards net rushing on 15 carries and needed a big run by Dreek Thompson on their final play to get into positive territory. Leeds, meanwhile, rushed for 364 yards on 52 carries.

With their loss at Glencoe last week, it marked the first time they had lost back-to-back games in the same season since 2006. It’s the first time they’ve have at least two losses in the regular season since their state championship season of 2009.

“You’ve got to be able to stop the run when you’re on defense and you’ve got to be able to run the ball effectively,” Piedmont coach Steve Smith said. “We’re getting a lot of big plays out of the passing game. We feel like we’re probably as efficient in that aspect as we been the whole time we’ve been here … but you can’t do that only.

“You’ve got to be able to mix in running the ball and have some effectiveness there. It just didn’t seem like we could get anything going in the running game. Frustrating for sure, but something we can go back to the drawing board and work on and try to fix. We’ve got guys we feel like are giving us the best chance to win games and we’re just not getting it done.”

Piedmont quarterback Tyler Lusk threw for 177 yards on 8-for-19 passing and tossed three touchdown passes in the first half.

He hit Thompson for a 66-yard touchdown on the second play of the game, Cody Daughtry on an 8-yarder across the field and C.J. Savage on a 45-yard play shortly before halftime.

“Their defensive line, just like last week, was really good,” Lusk said. “We tried to run against them; they just stuffed us in the hole and we couldn’t really run that much against them. We have to start blocking for the run to open up the passing game a whole lot more.”

Leeds junior quarterback Tadarryl Marshall, meanwhile, accounted 321 yards of total offense and four touchdowns — two rushing, two passing. He ran for 147 yards – 116 in the first quarter — and passed for 174.

He scored on runs of 42 and 4 yards and threw touchdown passes of 35 and 36 yards on consecutive drives in the second quarter.

“I remember coming up here my freshman year and I didn’t really do as good as I wanted to,” Marshall said. “And we played them again my sophomore year and I didn’t do good at all. This is my third time playing them and I came out full force. I wanted to win and I made sure everything I did was right.”

Those first two years, the Bulldogs designed their plan to make Marshall beat them with his arm — and he couldn’t do it. But as he has matured, he added more balance to his game and on this night was simply too much.

“This year the kind of game plan was more we need to keep this guy bottled up,” Smith said. “You didn’t see it a whole lot tonight, but he’s actually the most dangerous when he breaks down on a pass play and starts scrambling. We did a good job of not letting him get loose on the scrambles, but you saw him big arm and his ability to run it on the designed running plays for the quarterback. He’s a special talent, no doubt.”

Piedmont’s biggest weapon in its bid to knock off a No. 1 was Thompson. The versatile senior accounted for 222 all-purpose yards. He caught the touchdown pass that opened the scoring, returned a kickoff 74 yards to set up the Bulldogs’ second score and made several big hits on defense, including stopping Marshall head-on shortly before halftime.

It was his 34-yard run on the game’s final play that pushed the Bulldogs into positive rushing yardage. But he appeared to suffer a left shoulder injury on the run and left the locker room with a big bag of ice strapped to his body.

“Dreek played extremely hard … and at the times we were able to give him some kind of running lane, he was able to get some positive yardage,” Smith said. “Dreek’s a warrior. He’s a tough, hard-nosed player. He’s a little banged up, but we’ll get him healed up.”



Leeds Pied
First Downs 24 6
Rushes-yds 52-364 15-28
C-A-I 8-10-0 8-19-0
Passing yds 174 177
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0
Punts-avg 2-31.5 5-37.6
Penalties-yds 5-46 2-25

Leeds 14 14 7 7 — 42
Piedmont 12 6 0 0 — 18

P – Dreek Thompson 66 pass from Tyler Lusk (kick failed)
L – D’Venta Smith 10 run (Morgan Coston kick)
L — Tadarryl Marshall 42 run (Coston kick)
P — Cody Daughtry 8 pass from Lusk (pass failed)
L — Jermaine Johnson 35 pass from Marshall (Coston kick)
L — Koi Freeman 36 pass from Marshall (Coston kick)
P — C.J. Savage 45 pass from Lusk (run failed)
L — Ellis Nation 21 run (Coston kick)
L — Marshall 4 run (Coston kick)

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