E.A. Sports Today

Piedmont comes alive

Stanley, Myers run reigning state champion Bulldogs past JB Pennington to reach state quarterfinals

By Roy Mitchell
Special to East Alabama Sports Today

PIEDMONT – Two-time defending state champ Piedmont had every reason to be nervous.

Twice in the first quarter visiting JB Pennington had advanced into the red zone; each time the Bulldogs stopped them with turnovers. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs’ offense had gone nowhere, punting on their first possession and forced into a quick third down on the second.

But if Piedmont coach Steve Smith was antsy, he didn’t show it.

Before the third-down play he slyly leaned toward the left ear hole of one of his player’s helmet. He whispered in his ear like he was revealing a secret, one that would change everything – and it did.

The play produced the night’s first score. Just like that, momentum embraced the Bulldogs and carried them to a 28-13 victory.

The two-time Class 3A state champions now go on the road to play Colbert Heights (11-1) Friday in the state quarterfinals.

“It was definitely a game of ebb and flows,” Smith said. “It was one of those games where you’re really on the edge of your seat the whole night.”

Though Piedmont (11-1) would never trail, the going would not be easy for the Region 5 champs, mainly because of the Tigers’ star quarterback, Noah Allison. The junior not only had a knack for finding open receivers in the Piedmont zone, he was even more dangerous when flushed out of the pocket.

JB Pennington (9-3) took the opening kickoff and was at the Bulldogs 15 in just three plays before nose tackle Logan Beadles hopped on a backfield fumble. Kaedon Jenkins thwarted Pennington’s next possession with an interception.

The Bulldogs captured momentum – and the lead — on their next possession. On the third play Layton New’s block sprung Lee Stanley for a 75-yard touchdown. Brant Deerman’s extra point put the Bulldogs up 7-0 with 30 seconds left in the first quarter. Stanley rushed for 213 yards on 19 carries.

The Tigers tied the score on an Allison punt, pass, and kick. On fourth down, Allison receiving the long snap to punt. He held the ball, giving his linemen more time in coverage, before giving it the boot.

The strategy paid off when Jalon Bullard was there to collect the muffed catch at the Piedmont 6. Three plays later Allison connected with Cade Timmerman for a touchdown. After Allison’s PAT, the score was tied at 7-7 with 9:32 left in the half.

Allison went 15 of 24 for 183 yards passing, but he could only muster 28 yards on the ground. Controlling the Tiger ground game was part of Piedmont’s plan.

“We tried to make them one-dimensional,” Smith said. “The quarterback for them is a phenomenal player, but I don’t feel you can win games just by scrambling around. You have to be able to run the ball some. The biggest difference in the game was not letting them run the ball.”

Indeed, JB Pennington could only muster 15 yards on the ground in the first half. Meanwhile Piedmont tallied 254, including touchdown runs by Cardavion Myers of 10 and 69 yards. Myers rushed for 152 yards in the game.

“It was a quarterback sweep on the short side,” Smith explained of the long touchdown run. “A lot of times teams will not put as many people into the short side of the field. When you get everybody pinned inside and one defender turned out, there is a little crease right there.”

Roy Mitchell is a sports correspondent for the Cherokee County Herald.

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