E.A. Sports Today

Bulldogs get it done

Top-ranked Piedmont makes the most of its possessions to down Cherokee County

By Shannon Fagan
Special to East Alabama Sports Today

CENTRE – For the second straight week, the top-ranked football team in Class 3A found itself in a dogfight against a larger team. And, for the second straight week, that team made the most of its possessions.

Piedmont senior quarterback Taylor Hayes accounted for 235 yards of offense and three touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 35-21 victory at Cherokee County Friday night. He rushed for 162 yards and two touchdowns and had 73 yards passing, including a 48-yard touchdown strike to junior Darien Bossie in the first quarter.

“When we got the ball, we basically scored every time but once before halftime,” Hayes said. “Our O-line did a tremendous job. They were making holes. We weren’t getting touched until we were five or six yards down the field on almost every play. It was easy to run. When you’ve got guys blocking for you, all you’ve got to do is run straight.”

Junior running back Lee Stanley tallied 130 yards on 13 carries, including a 44-yard touchdown on Piedmont’s first possession of the second half to go up 21-14. Then, junior defensive back Cardavion Myers picked off a Tyren Dupree pass to end a Warrior drive. Eight plays after the pick, Hayes scored on an 11-yard run to put Piedmont in front 27-14 with 3:04 left in the third quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter Hayes scored on an 18-yard run and threw a 2-point conversion pass to Myers, running the lead to 35-14.

“The kid’s a winner,” Smith said of Hayes. “If you’re starting a high school football team in Alabama and you said I get one player to pick and start it with, Taylor Hayes would be the guy I’d start it with. Everybody from Piedmont can see how he lays it on the line every play, but he’s also the best encourager and motivator for the rest of our guys to give their best effort.”

Hayes got Piedmont going on its first possession. He capped a 10-play, 99-yard drive with his 48-yard touchdown connection to Bossie with just under 10 seconds to go in the first quarter. The drive was aided by a Warrior offside penalty on fourth-and-inches at the Piedmont 11.

“We jumped offside on fourth down there, then they went on to score on that,” Warrior coach Tripp Curry said. “I thought it could have been 14-7 (at halftime), then them getting the ball in the second half wouldn’t have been that big a deal.”

The Warriors had big plays, too. Tyren Dupree threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Quartez Henderson to tie the game 7-7 and Sidney Perry had a 47-yard kickoff return to set up Brendan Bray’s touchdown run that tied the game at 14 right before halftime.

Dupree completed 11 of 17 pass attempts for 158 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 34 yards on 12 carries.

On the cover: Lee Stanley runs for some of his 130 yards. (Photo by Shannon Fagan)

Shannon Fagan is sports editor of the Cherokee County Herald.

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