E.A. Sports Today

Piedmont wins thriller

Bulldogs use strong second half to score key region victory; second-half defense, TD in final 10 seconds lift them over Weaver

Piedmont quarterback Mason Mohon (4) races towards a touchdown Friday night against Weaver. Mohon threw a touchdown pass with nine seconds left to win the game. (Photos by Greg Warren)

By Jeremy Wortham
For East Alabama Sports Today

WEAVER – Piedmont closed another chapter in its story of second-half dominance Friday night with a little bit of luck in a big fourth-quarter comeback to score a separating Class 3A Region 6 victory over Weaver.

The second-ranked Bulldogs held the athletic Bearcats to 71 yards and no points in the second half, and scored twice in the final 10 minutes – including the game-winner with nine seconds left – to win 29-21.

Mason Mohon threw a 22-yard pass to Elijah Johnson for the go-ahead touchdown, breaking a 21-21 tie, and Kaedon Jenkins tacked on the two-point conversion.

“We kind of told them if we were what I thought we were our character should come out in the second half and we’re just going to have to get it done,” Piedmont coach Steve Smith said. “I’m proud of our guys for doing that.”

After finding no success offensively for the entire third quarter, the Bulldogs (4-0, 3-0) went into the fourth trailing 21-15.

They put together their best drive since the middle of the second quarter with T.J. Fairs capping it off with a 19-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 21 with 9:34 to play. The Bearcats’ band and fans played the 12th man and cranked up the volume during the extra point attempt and the snap ended up sailing over the holder’s head to keep the game tied.

Things unraveled quickly for Weaver after that. The Bearcats (3-1, 2-1) lost their second fumble of the game on a bad toss to Shamar Spinks with 4:42 to play. Piedmont was unable to capitalize and Weaver got the ball back with 2:31 to play and 66 yards to drive for the win. But between some undisciplined penalties and Piedmont’s defense, the Bearcats had to punt on fourth-and-long from their territory.

“I’ve got to give a lot of props to coach (James) Blanchard, our defensive coordinator, for being able to come out and put up a goose-egg in the second half; the adjustments he made with our defense was great,” Smith said. “The defense was lights out in the second half. Putting zero up in the second half against a team like Weaver isn’t going to happen very often because they’re so explosive.”

The Bulldogs rarely go after a punt but applied pressure to Robert Gaines’ rugby-style punt in this case because the Bearcats have faked in each of their first three games. The pressure was intense enough it forced Gaines to kick it into his up-back.

Piedmont recovered at the Weaver 41 with 52 seconds left. Three plays later Mohon connected with Johnson for the go-ahead touchdown and Jenkins added the two-point conversion.

“We had a little play in our game plan that we were going to go empty backfield because they were playing us so tight and playing man coverage and we saved it to that last little score right there,” Smith said. “They had four secondary guys and we had five receiver guys and we were able to find the matchup.

“Mason did a good job of coming off what we thought the matchup was going to be and found the open receiver and Elijah made a great catch and run to get in the end zone, so hats off to our guys for making that play when they had to.”

Mohon threw for 70 yards in the game on 4-of-11 passing and had 47 yards rushing on 15 carries. Jenkins had 107 yards rushing on 17 carries. Fairs had 54 yards on eight carries.

Gaines had 85 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries for Weaver. Spinks rushed for 99 yards on 17 carries.

“They played their hearts out and really stepped up,” Weaver coach Daryl Hamby said of Gaines and Spinks. “They’re a duo that’s hard to stop. Not taking anything away from Piedmont, I thought sometimes we just stopped ourselves and we’ve got to quit doing that if we’re going to be successful.”

Piedmont 29, Weaver 21
Team stats Pied Weav

First downs 10 14
Rushes-yds 44-218 40-208
Passes 4-11 2-7
Passing yds 92 58
Fumbles lost 2 3
Penalties-yds 7-55 13-115

Scoring summary
Piedmont 7 8 0 14 – 29
Weaver 14 7 0 0 – 21

P – Kaedon Jenkins 4 run (Brant Deerman kick), 9:42 1Q
W – Robert Gaines 3 4un (kick good), 5:04 1Q
W – Robert Gaines 59 run (kick good), 2:21 1Q
P – Mason Mohon 15 run (Kaedon Jenkins run), 5:23 2Q
W – Robert Gaines 2 run (kick good), 3:06 2Q
P – T.J. Fairs 19 run (kick failed), 9:34 4Q
P – Elijah Johnson 21 pass from Mason Mohon (Kaedon Jenkins run), 0:09 4Q

Weaver’s Robert Gaines sprints into the end zone for one of his three touchdowns Friday night.

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