E.A. Sports Today

Bulldogs weather storm

No. 2 Piedmont overcomes early deficit, weather delay to take big region win over No. 4 Randolph County

Piedmont’s defense closes in on Randolph County’s Damarcus Davis. On the cover, Piedmont’s Ethan Swinford fights for extra yardage. (Photos by Jeremy Wortham)

By Jeremy Wortham
For East Alabama Sports Today
PIEDMONT – Another classic region showdown between Class 3A perennial powers Piedmont and Randolph County went down in the books the way fate has had it from previous meetings.
When these two teams meet on the field the one that seemingly dominates in the first half on the field and the scoreboard is never the victor. It’s the team that falls behind in the half always outplays and outscores the other in the second to score an important region win. 
It happened again Friday as, this time, second-ranked Piedmont was able to establish a more productive second half that propelled it to a 27-15 victory for coach Steve Smith’s 150thcareer victory in the program.
“We literally had to weather the storm,” Smith said.
Indeed. It took all of three minutes and 13 seconds for the Bulldogs to fall into a 15-0 hole. And then the teams took the locker rooms after the fourth-ranked Tigers’ second score due to severe lightning.
Randolph County’s Jonathon Prothro took Piedmont’s opening squib kick and returned it to the Bulldogs’ 20. Dante Jordan then scored on the Tigers’ first play on the option. The Tigers held Piedmont to three and out and Prothro made his presence felt again by blocking the punt that Hagan Bailey scooped and returned 28 yards for a second score.
“It was a terrible start for us but I’ve got to say (it says) a lot about our kids and their resiliency,” Smith said.
Piedmont found new life in the second half, scoring four unanswered touchdowns, taking the lead for the first time with 10:28 to play on Jack Hayes’ 34-yard touchdown pass to Silas Thompson.
Hayes bounced back from two earlier interceptions by Jordan with two second-half touchdown passes. Ethan Swinford was a force that couldn’t be stopped as he caught eight balls out of the backfield for 143 yards and scored the other three Piedmont touchdowns.
“We were finally able to hit a couple plays and make something happen,” Smith said.
The defense equally played their part by forcing four fumbles and blocking a punt near the end zone to gain momentum and gain momentum and control of the game for the remainder.
The blocked punt gave us some insurance,” Smith said. “We’ve got a lot of kids that have a lot of heart and determination in them.”
“Our defense has been lights out so far this year. They are going to have to carry our young offense until we grow up. At the end of the night this was a huge region win and we are going to celebrate it.”.
Smith is now 150-28 in 14 years as the Bulldogs’ head coach. Including his 11 years at Cedar Bluff, he has a career record of 235-73.
The Cherokee County Herald contributed to this story.
Piedmont 27, Randolph County 15

RC (15)Pied (27)
3First downs14
77Rushing yds90
10Passing yds220
10-90Penalty yds3-20

Randolph County    15 0 0   0  – 15
Piedmont                   0   6 7 14  – 27
Scoring plays
R – Dante Jordan 20 run (kick good), 11:45 1Q
R – Hagan Bailey 28 blocked punt return (Dante Jordan conversion), 8:47 1Q
P – Ethan Swinford 80 pass from Jack Hayes (conversion failed), 7:52 2Q
P – Ethan Swinford 7 pass from Jack Hayes (Bryce Mohon kick), 2:41 3Q
P – Silas Thompson 34 pass from Jack Hayes (Silas Thompson pass from Jack Hayes), 10:28 4Q
P – Ethan Swinford 12 run (conversion failed), 9:16 4Q

Dante Jordan (10) had a touchdown and two interceptions for Randolph County Friday night. (Photo by Jeremy Wortham)

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