E.A. Sports Today

Piedmont rolls on

Top-ranked Bulldogs go on the road and keep title hopes alive by knocking off upstart Colbert Heights

Piedmont’s Cardavion Myers reaches for the goal line in the Bulldogs’ playoff game at Colbert Heights. The play did result in a touchdown, but the next one did and the Bulldogs rolled to victory. (Photos by Allison Carter/TimesDaily)

By Ben Griffin
Special to East Alabama Sports Today

TUSCUMBIA – The most successful football season in Colbert Heights’ history came to an end Friday night, while Piedmont’s dream of winning a third straight state championship stayed alive as the Bulldogs won 34-13 in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state playoffs.

Piedmont (12-1) returned the opening kickoff for a score and reached the end zone on five of its six total offensive possessions and the Wildcats simply couldn’t keep pace.

“I can’t say enough good things about our kids and the way they made those possessions count,” Piedmont coach Steve Smith said. “We didn’t turn the ball over, had four penalties I think for the game, which we still need to clean up, but we played about as well on offense I thought as we can play — never punt, never turn it over.”

Piedmont’s pursuit of a third-straight state championship continues next week in the semifinals against Randolph County (12-1) at the Field of Champions. The winners advances to the title game Dec. 7 at Tuscaloosa’s Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The Bulldogs followed up Kaedon Jenkins’ 76-yard kickoff return for a score, with a 24-yard touchdown pass on 4th-and-18 from Cardavion Myers to Lee Stanley to grab a 14-0 advantage through one quarter.

Colbert Heights (11-2) responded with a 13-play, 77-yard drive capped with a 9-yard keeper from Kevin Shaw to narrow the lead to 7, only to have it extended again on a 16-yard touchdown run from Stanley with 1:52 left in the second quarter.

Colbert Heights pushed the ball to Piedmont’s 14-yard line with 4.7 seconds left in the half, but failed to cash in when Carson Shaw was tackled for a loss on a reverse as time expired.

The Wildcats were playing in the quarterfinals for the first time in school history after knocking off Weaver in overtime last week. They set a school record with 11 wins this season, eclipsing the previous mark of 10 set in 2007, and their streak of eight consecutive wins from Sept. 22 to Nov. 17 was also a school high.

“You get this deep into the playoffs and there’s no room for error,” Leathers said. “But it’s been incredible what this team has been able to do. They’ve not only won football games and set records, but have been able to bring a community together. We would’ve loved to win the football game and moved on, but I can’t say enough about how the Lord has blessed us throughout the year and how this community has come together in support of these players. People won’t forget the 2017 Wildcats.”

The Wildcats took the second half kickoff and marched 67 yards on eight plays for the only score of the third quarter. Running back Dylan Chandler carried it in from 11 yards out and with a missed extra point the Wildcats trailed 21-13. It would be their last threat.

Piedmont’s didn’t allow a first down in the fourth quarter and Myers scored on runs of 1 and 24 yards to seal it.

“Defensively, I thought we played really well,” Smith said. “That’s a really good team. Colbert Heights did some things with formations and having that running quarterback running the option that gave us some problems. Hats off to them for a great season … I can’t enough great things about Colbert Heights and the job coach Leathers and his staff have done to make this program relevant again.

“I’m very proud of our guys coming on the road into a very, very good atmosphere to play a quarterfinal playoff game and getting a big win. It’s going to be a happy ride home.”

Ben Griffin is a sports writer with the Florence Times-Daily.

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