E.A. Sports Today

Bulldogs back in finals

Piedmont holds Colbert County to 25 yards rushing, posts fifth shutout to make 3A title game for first time since winning it in 2009

By East Alabama Sports Today

LEIGHTON – The mark of a good team is being able to make big plays when you need them, and because Piedmont did that Friday night, the Bulldogs are going to the state championship game for the first time since 2009.

The Bulldogs played throwback football in a big-time way, controlling both lines of scrimmage, delivering big plays and controlling the clock with the lead in blanking six-time state champion Colbert County 14-0 at C.T. Manley Stadium.

They will play Bayside Academy (11-3) for the Class 3A title Thursday 11 a.m. at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. The game will be carried live locally on 810 AM, 97.1 and 94.3 FM.

Defense was a big part of the Bulldogs’ success. They held the Indians (10-4) to only 25 yards rushing while posting their fifth shutout of the season and second of the playoffs.

All of the shutouts have come since their only loss of the season, Sept. 24 at Leeds. It was the first time the Indians have been shutout in 44 games.

“Our defense has played really, really well ever since the mid-point of the season,” Piedmont coach Steve Smith said. “Our defensive coaches have done a wonderful job. I kind of turn that over to them and give some direction on how we put the defense and offense together and special teams, and they do a great job getting those guys prepared.”

Both Piedmont touchdowns came after big defensive plays. The first – Taylor Hayes’ 28-yard pass to Bayley Blanchard — came one play after Cardavion Myers recovered a muffed punt at the Colbert County 24. The second – Darnell Jackson’s 2-yard run late in the second quarter — came after the Bulldogs stopped the Indians on a fourth-and-1.

“I think we had two or three fourth-down stops tonight,” Smith said. “They had to take some chances because the way we were shortening the game making first downs and they felt possessions were going to be scarce.

“Our guys did a wonderful job coming up there and making that play several times tonight by several different people. I can’t say enough good things about the way our defense played.”

Taylor Hayes once again was the catalyst of the offense, but Colbert County coach Dale Jeffreys called the Bulldogs’ play in the trenches “the difference in the game.”

The Bulldogs’ quarterback passed for 94 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 156 yards on 26 carries. Jackson had 63 yards on 10 carries.

Once they had the lead, the Bulldogs put the game on the backs of Hayes and Jackson, and they kept it moving on the ground.

“Offensively we did what we had to,” Smith said. “When we got a two-touchdown lead we kind of felt it was wise on our end to go more into a run mode and controlling the clock and making first downs.

“I felt pretty confident with a two-score advantage. Even though they have an abundance of great athletes, the way our defense was playing it was going to be hard for them to overcome a two-score deficit.”

The only other time the Bulldogs visited the state championship game they beat Cordova 35-28 in overtime for the crown.

Colbert County brought a nine-game winning streak into the game.

Piedmont 14, Colbert County 0

Piedmont 7 7 0 0 — 14
Colbert Co. 0 0 0 0 — 0

P – Bayley Blanchard 28 pass from Taylor Hayes (Easton Kirk kick), 9:00 1Q
P – Darnell Jackson 2 run (Kirk kick), 1:03 2Q

Team stats Pied Colb
First downs 18 12
Rushing yds 255 25
C-A-I 6-13-1 NA
Passing yds 94 163
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-1
Punts-avg 2-39.0 NA
Penalties-yds 6-43 6-55

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