E.A. Sports Today

Battering Rams

Piedmont finds end zone late, but Sylvania deals Bulldogs 23-7 loss in Class 3A, Region 6 play by pounding Parham at them over and over.

Cover photo: Piedmont’s Demetrius Owen (3) and Trevor Pike (20) pursue Sylvania running back Aiden Parham during their game Friday at Sylvania. (Photo by Jean Blackstone/For East Alabama Sports Today)

FRIDAY, Sept. 8
Moody 42, Alexandria 7, FINAL
Anniston 47, Munford 14, FINAL
Central-Clay 41, Tallassee 7, FINAL
Cleburne County 42, Talladega 13, FINAL
Ragland 66, Donoho 0, FINAL
Hokes Bluff 47, Glencoe 7, FINAL
Handley 32, Jacksonville 24, FINAL
Southside 29, Lincoln 8, FINAL
Ohatchee 34, Westbrook Christian 33, FINAL
Oxford 42, Shades Valley 13, FINAL
Sylvania 23, Piedmont 7, FINAL
Pleasant Valley 34, West End-Walnut Grove 14, FINAL
Ranburne 38, Fayetteville 19, FINAL
Randolph County 38, Childersburg 28, FINAL
Beulah 38, Saks 24, FINAL
Wadley 41, Spring Garden 7, FINAL
Dadeville 26, Weaver 20, FINAL
B.B. Comer 45, Woodland 0, FINAL
Open: Jacksonville Christian, Wellborn, White Plains.

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

SYLVANIA — Piedmont came close to hitting big plays several times in the Bulldogs’ Class 3A, Region 6 showdown with Sylvania on Friday, but what hit the Bulldogs over and over again prevailed.

Aiden Parham carried 46 times for 328 yards and three touchdowns as the Rams rolled to a 23-7 victory in a game that featured Class 3A’s eighth- and ninth-ranked teams.

Coming a week after Piedmont’s loss to Class 4A runner up Cherokee County, the Bulldogs’ loss to Sylvania leaves them with their first 0-2 start since 2004. They’re also 0-1 in region play.

First-year Piedmont coach Jonathan Miller inherited a program that enjoyed remarkable success during Steve Smith’s 17-year run, including five state titles. Smith left to become Westbrook Christian’s head coach.

Miller also inherited a team that lost nine offensive starters, including quarterback Jack Hayes, who broke Alabama High School Athletic Association career records for total yards, total touchdown, passing yards and touchdown passes.

The Bulldogs lost six defensive starters.

They went the first quarter of Friday’s game without wide receiver Ishmael Bethel, who sat out the quarter final disciplinary reasons, Miller said.

It didn’t help that such a young team opened against Cherokee County and Sylvania.

“I knew they were going to be tough,” Miller said. “I think we’ve got to do some, not really soul searching, but we’ve got some guys that are injured and banged up. We’ve got to have a solid plan moving forward.

“We’ve got these out of the way, and we’ve got to regroup a little bit and attack the rest of the schedule.”

It didn’t help that Piedmont suffered a “long list” of injuries during Friday’s game, Miller said. Defensive tackle Fisher Adams, running back Dontavious Jordan and defensive back Trevor Pike all sustained in-game injuries.

Sylvania tried attacking Piedmont through the air early, and quarterback Griffin Turner’s bomb attempt on the Rams’ first snap skipped off of Zack Anderson’s finger tips.

The Rams tried more first-down passing but knew they could run Parham, and run Parham they did. His 1-yard touchdown run made it 7-0 at 6:25 of the first quarter, and his 7-yarder at 3:43 clinched a 14-0 halftime lead.

Parham’s 67-yard breakaway at 6:36 of the fourth quarter was the back breaker. It came after John Robert Dixon intercepted Cole Wilson’s pass on fourth down and three and made it 23-0.

“They’re big up front. That’s what makes him go,” Miller said. “Their guys up front make him go, and they did a good job of getting a hat on a hat and letting him run the football.”

Piedmont relied heavily on Wilson’s arm to move the ball, but Rollie Pinto’s legs got the Bulldogs into the end zone. He scored on a 15-yard run with 4:12 left.

Piedmont came close on other potential big plays. Bethel broke open on a deep slant early in the third quarter, but Wilson’s pass flew one step ahead of him.

Pinto came one tackler away from breaking kickoff returns twice.

“We left some things on the table,” Miller said. “We didn’t execute like we wanted to. We’ve definitely got to get better across the board.”

Pinto said the Bulldogs will get better.

“I can promise you, we’re going to bounce back,” he said. “We’re 0-2, but this is a good Sylvania team, and we’re in a tough region, but we’re going to bounce back.”

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