E.A. Sports Today

Hayes leads Piedmont past Ohatchee

Bulldogs’ quarterback runs for two scores and throws for another as third-ranked Piedmont rolls

Piedmont quarterback Taylor Hayes (11) ran for two touchdowns and threw for another Friday night against Ohatchee. (Photo by PrimeTimePrepz/www.primetimeprepz.com)

Piedmont quarterback Taylor Hayes (11) ran for two touchdowns and threw for another Friday night against Ohatchee. (Photo by PrimeTimePrepz/www.primetimeprepz.com)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OHATCHEE — From the time he first joined the program as an eighth-grader Taylor Hayes has been a specialty quarterback in the Piedmont offense. Now he’s in a position to be a special quarterback.

Hayes was basically the team’s running quarterback to spell senior cousin Tyler Lusk last year. But now that he’s their full time guy he’s proving adept at directing all aspects of the Bulldogs offense.

The junior with seemingly endless eligibility ran for two touchdowns and threw for another Friday as the third-ranked Bulldogs swamped Ohatchee 40-13 in a game interrupted for nearly 90 minutes by weather in the first half.

Hayes had touchdown runs of 9 and 11 yards, and a 57-yard scoring pass to Bayley Blanchard — all in the first half. He rushed for 66 yards in seven carries and completed 5 of 10 passes for 111 yards.

Piedmont coach Steve Smith isn’t looking for Hayes to be spectacular in his role as starter “I just want him to be Taylor.”

“Taylor is a really good player,” Smith said. “He’s an underrated passer. Everybody’s always on about him as a physically tough runner, but he’s a perfect quarterback for our system. He can do it with his arm and with his legs and we expect a lot out of him. He expects a lot out of himself, too.”

When he wasn’t playing quarterback, Hayes is a hard-hitting linebacker and that’s one mindset he brings to the position.

“It’s definitely different,” he said. “I went from playing linebacker a lot last year, hitting people, and when I did get in there I was running and hitting people.

“Now I’m trying to control the offense, get us in the right place. I’m going to do the same thing I did last year, give it my best. In that way nothing’s changed. We’re all just trying to win.”

Everyone at Roy C. Owens Field with a weather app on their phones knew heavy weather was coming, and the teams got the entire first quarter in before lightning, wind and heavy rain chased the crowd and the teams from the field.

Ohatchee (1-2) moved the ball on the game’s opening possession — in the driest of the night’s conditions — but was stopped just short of the yard-to-gain inside the 10 on a 4th-and-14.

Piedmont (3-0) covered the 90 yards coming back in 10 plays and a penalty with Hayes scoring on a 9-yard run with 45.1 seconds left.

Ohatchee ran one other play after the ensuing kickoff before the horn sounded and they departed for the dressing rooms while lightning flashed around the Creek Bank.

After 90 minutes of both teams basically doing nothing in the dressing room, the Bulldogs seized control right after the game resumed. They scored on their first possession after the restart – Hayes’ 57-yard pass to Blanchard — killed Ohatchee’s next possession with an interception by Blanchard and converted it into Hayes’ second running touchdown and got Blanchard’s 65-yard punt return for a touchdown.

They led 26-0 at the half.

“I was real pleased with how we came out of the delay,” Smith said. “We established some really good momentum coming out of the break and I thought that was big because they had pretty good field position when we started back over. Our guys did a good job of going out there and getting the momentum and kind of putting the game away.”

Darnell Jackson scored on a 25-yard run in the third quarter and Neonta Alexander scored on a 1-yard run in the fourth.

Ohatchee scored its two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Taylor Eubanks threw a 9-yard pass to Austin Tucker early in the quarter and Cam McCombs scored on a 1-yard run with less than 30 seconds to play.

The Indians rushed for nearly 200 yards on Piedmont. Tucker ran for 68 yards. Turnovers plagued them for much of the early going last season, but the interception by Blanchard – off a busted assignment — was the first turnover by their first unit this season.

“The thing that hurt us coming back out after the delay was we gave up a punt return and we threw an interception and that … pretty much sealed the deal,” Indians coach Scott Martin said. “And time you give up non-offensive touchdowns, they’re hard to recover from.

“We did what we wanted to early as far as controlling the clock, but it’s hard to contain No. 2 (Jackson) and No. 11 (Hayes). We knew we’d have to play a perfect game and the first quarter went about like we wanted to, but the two killer things were the turnover and the punt return.”

Piedmont 40, Ohatchee 13

Piedmont 6 20 7 7 — 40
Ohatchee 0 0 0 13 — 13

P – Taylor Hayes 9 run (kick failed), 0:45 1Q
P – Bayley Blanchard 57 pass from Hayes (pass failed), 6:45 2Q
P – Hayes 2 run (pass failed), 3:52 2Q
P – Blanchard 65 punt return (Darnell Jackson pass from Hayes), 2:06 2Q
P – Jackson 25 run (Hayes kick), 5:47 3Q
O – Austin Tucker 9 pass from Taylor Eubanks (Dakota Wise kick), 10:50 4Q
P – Neonta Alexander 1 run (Hayes kick), 8:38 4Q
O – Cam McCombs 1 run (run failed), 0:27 4Q

Category Pied Ohat
First downs 13 13
Rushes-yds 20-220 48-191
C-A-I 5-10-0 2-6-1
Passing yds 111 28
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Punts-avg 1-46.0 4-32.0
Penalties-yds 8-65 2-10

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