E.A. Sports Today

Back on track

Lots of symmetry in Piedmont’s 34-0 win: Smith kicks 2 FGs, Holloway runs for 2 TDs, Hayes throws for 2; UPDATES with list of 19 players who’ve caught a TD pass from Hayes

Piedmont kicker Sloan Smith (3) and quarterback Jack Hayes (7) talk things over during a break in the action Thursday night. Sloan kicked two field goals and Hayes threw two TD passes in the win. “Every time we get inside what I consider my range, it’s either my job or Jack’s job – we’re best buddies – to put points on the board for our team,” Smith said.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

RAINBOW CITY — Whenever Sloan Smith hears “Field goal, get ready” on the Piedmont sideline he uses it as a call to arms.

Well, as a kicker, maybe not quite to arms, but you get the idea and both he and the Bulldogs expect him to deliver.

Smith did Thursday night, kicking two field goals in the second quarter – one of the first play and one on the last — to help the third-ranked Bulldogs get back on the winning track with a 34-0 victory over Westbrook Christian.

The coach’s son kicked a 30-yarder on the first play of the second quarter and a 29-yarder on the last play of the half. It’s the second time this year he has kicked two field goals in a game.

“I have the most confidence in myself and I think dad’s (Bulldogs coach Steve Smith) got the second most confidence in me when I go out there,” the kicker said. “At the end of the day that’s all that really matters.

“All that’s going through my head is do my job to help my team, whether that’s putting three points on the board or kicking a PAT. As soon as they say ‘field goal ready,’ I get a little stretched out and I’m ready to roll.”

In between the three-pointers, Jack Hayes threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Ish Bethel. Hayes also threw a 2-yarder to Thomas Propst on fourth down in the third quarter, extending his state career records for TD passes and TD accountability.

Hayes completed 15 of 25 passes for 130 yards and rushed for 68 yards on nine carries.

Cody Holloway, who does most of his damage in the Bulldogs’ secondary, gave the offense some depth at the skill positions. He had touchdown runs of 3 and 43 yards – their first and last touchdowns of the game – and rushed for 73 yards on five carries in the game.

“Injuries have kind of depleted our depth in the offensive skill positions, so we’ve got some people playing probably a little bit out of position, but we’ve been tweaking it and trying to make it work with what we have,” Steve Smith said. “He gave us a little shot of energy tonight at the running back position. He’s got that talent to be able to help us there. We’re just trying to pick and choose our spots.”

“I know Coach Smith doesn’t like to play people both ways, but I usually give everything I’ve got whenever I get in there,” Holloway said. “I just followed my blockers and made the plays that needed to be made.”

The younger Smith wasn’t the only special teams star in the game. Max Hanson returned the first two punts of the game a total of 96 yards. The Bulldogs couldn’t convert the first one, coming up just short on fourth down from the 23, but they got Smith’s first field goal from the second.

“That would have been a lot of momentum for them if they would’ve stopped us again without any points,” Steve Smith said. “That first field goal was big to help us capitalize on that great field position by the punt return team. I’m very proud of him coming through and knocking those balls through.”

It looked like the kicker might get a shot at a third field goal late in the third quarter when the Bulldogs were knocking on the door but appeared stalled inside the 5. That’s when Hayes threw his short TD pass to Propst on fourth down.

“At that point in time I thought it was big for our offense to not get stopped again and if we didn’t convert they’d have to go 98 yards,” Steve Smith said. “I really wanted the offense to be able to feel better about themselves and not getting stopped down there in the red zone on downs again.

“Thomas runs that route really well and Jack put it right on the money and Thomas went up and made a really good catch.”

The Bulldogs’ defense was equally impressive. They held the Warriors to just 26 yards rushing (on 27 carries) and had three interceptions. 

PIED (34)WC (0)
141st Downs11
135Passing yds144
Piedmont (4-2)71377 –34
Westbrook (4-2)0000 –0

P – Cody Holloway 3 run (Sloan Smith kick), 8:11 1Q
P – Sloan Smith 30 FG, 11:55 2Q
P – Ish Bethel 11 pass from Jack Hayes (Sloan Smith kick), 4:15 2Q
P – Sloan Smith 29 FG, 0:00 2Q
P – Thomas Propst 2 pass from Jack Hayes (Sloan Smith kick), 3:49 3Q
P – Cody Holloway 43 run (Sloan Smith kick), 9:41 4Q

Catching the Hayes Wave

Here is a list of all the receivers who have caught touchdown passes from Piedmont’s Jack Hayes. (Graphic by Kurt Duryea)

 JACK HAYES TOTAL183839413139

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