E.A. Sports Today

Still the big dog

Piedmont uses a big second half to take down Randolph County in first major challenge to its region supremacy

Lee Stanley (2) and Cardavion Myers played huge roles in Piedmont’s second-half rally against Randolph County. (Photo by Jeremy Wortham/TigerDen Media)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

WEDOWEE — Until somebody knocks them off, the Piedmont Bulldogs are still going to be the big dog in Class 3A football — Region 5 or otherwise.

The Bulldogs showed why they’re still the big dog Friday night, coming to life in the second half and rallying in the fourth quarter to beat Randolph County 41-31 at Ron Watters Field and turn back the biggest threat to their position to date.

They scored all of their 41 points in the second half.

“I’m very proud of our guys tonight,” Piedmont coach Steve Smith said. “We had a lot of adversity in the first half. If it could go wrong …

“I’ve got to give our guys a lot of credit for not giving up.”

Piedmont coach Steve Smith gets a bit animated after Lee Stanley’s 79-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter sealed the Bulldogs’ victory over Randolph County. (Photo by Kirk Keener)

After a first half in which not very much went right for them, the Bulldogs (3-1) scored three touchdowns in each of the final two quarters and got two big interceptions in the fourth quarter to turn back the Tigers (2-1), who were rated No. 1 in the state in some polls.

They racked up more than 260 yards rushing in the second half, two-thirds of their total for the game.

Randolph County was making a big play for the Bulldogs’ region supremacy. The Tigers crushed Ohatchee the week before and win over Piedmont Friday would have given them victories over the top two teams in the region from a year ago and the upper hand in this year’s standings.

The Bulldogs felt their position threatened and were determined not to give it up easily.

“They always say its harder to stay on top, so we have to work harder than we did last year to keep that big dog (reputation),” running back Lee Stanley said. “Until somebody knocks us off I would say that (the Bulldogs are the big dogs), but we’ve got to keep our heads on straight and not take anybody lightly.”

The Bulldogs scored three touchdowns and got their two picks in the final nine minutes of the game after Randolph County grabbed a 31-22 lead. Up to that point, every time Piedmont scored in the second half Randolph County would answer, twice on big runs by Danta Davenport (65 yards) and Trent Lane (48 yards). Lane rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns in the game.

Stanley scored on runs of 38 and 79 yards between a 5-yard touchdown run by Cardavion Myers. The Myers touchdown gave the Bulldogs their first lead, 34-31 with 7:14 to play. Stanley’s second score of the quarter made it 41-31 with 2:21 left and capped a drive that started at the 1 when Randolph County kept a punt from going into the end zone.

Stanley had 191 yards rushing, 136 in the fourth quarter. Myers scored four touchdowns – three in the third quarter – and had 163 yards rushing. Myers also completed five of six passes for 79 yards.

Stanley’s 79-yard touchdown run, a burst right in front of the Randolph County bench, got Smith excited. The coach jumped in air and pumped his fist as the Bulldogs finally felt like they could breathe.

“I’m still a kid at heart, now,” Smith said. “I try to keep a straight face and try to keep cool, but I’m just like anybody else. You get here and watch your guys battle back like that, I was happy for them. I’m real proud to be on that sideline tonight and I’m real proud of the resiliency and character our guys showed in some tough situations.”

The go-ahead touchdown was set up by Darien Bossie’s interception return to the Randolph County 13. The Bulldogs sealed their victory with a pick, when Kaedon Jenkins snagged a Brody Wortham pass with less than a minute to play.

The Bulldogs trailed 13-0 at the end of the first quarter and at halftime. Among their misadventures in the half were a bad snap on a punt that led to Randolph County’s second touchdown and mishandling a fourth-down snap at the goal line that prevented them from scoring.

It was time for some soul-searching.

“I wasn’t real happy with how we played, but it wasn’t what we were doing, it was a matter that they were bringing the fight to us and the second half would reveal if we had any heart and character and fight,” Smith said. “That, to me, is what it was about.

“I really just asked our kids to show me if you have something. If you have some character then let it show in the second half. I’m real proud they did that.”

The Bulldogs credited their wherewithal on the lessons learned in their season-opening loss to Rockmart (Ga.) that ended their 25-game winning streak. They still have a 27-game winning streak against teams from Alabama and a 25-game winning streak against Class 3A competition.

“Coming out after halftime we knew we had to keep our head up,” Myers said. “We made a lot of mistakes in the first half but we couldn’t drop our head. We knew we could hang with this team, but we knew it would be a tough competition and we just had to keep on working.”

[table id=60 /]

Piedmont 0 0 22 19 — 41
Randolph Co. 13 0 12 6 — 31

RC – E.J. Clark 47 pass from Brody Wortham (Jordan Heard kick), 4:49 1Q
RC – Jai Wright 2 run (kick blocked), 0:09 1Q
P – Cardavion Myers 1 run (Brant Deerman kick), 9:54 3Q
RC – Danta Davenport 65 run (pass failed), 9:41 3Q
P – Cardavion Myers 5 run (Brant Deerman kick), 7:43 3Q
RC – Trent Lane 1 run (run failed), 6:04 3Q
P – Cardavion Myers 41 run (Cardavion Myers run), 3:51 3Q
RC – Trent Lane 2 run (kick blocked), 10:18 4Q
P – Lee Stanley 38 run (run failed), 8:52 4Q
P – Cardavion Myers 5 run (PAT failed), 7:14 4Q
P – Lee Stanley 79 run (Brant Deerman kick), 2:21 4Q

Piedmont’s Lee Stanley (2) leaves Randolph County defenders in his wake on his 79-yard touchdown run that sealed the Bulldogs’ victory. (Photo by Jeremy Wortham/TigerDen Media)

On the cover: The Piedmont Bulldogs celebrate their hard-fought 41-31 victory over Randolph County. (Photo by Jeremy Wortham/TigerDen Media)

You must be logged in to post a comment Login