E.A. Sports Today

Not so ‘Ugly Eagle’

Ohatchee takes to the air for big plays, downs Piedmont 38-21 in key 3A, Region 6 game. Injuries mounting for Piedmont.

Ohatchee quarterback Jake Roberson throws against Piedmont on Friday. On the cover, Ohatchee’s Jesse Baswell makes a key third-down catch against the Bulldogs. (Photos by Jean Blackstone/For East Alabama Sports Today)

Friday scoreboard

Springville 49, Alexandria 21, FINAL
White Plains at Anniston, cancelled
Central-Clay 31, Handley 6, FINAL
Cherokee County 55, Hanceville 0, FINAL
Cleburne County 37, Munford 21, FINAL
Victory Christian 27, Donoho 13, FINAL
Plainview 35, Glencoe 7, FINAL
Hokes Bluff 47, Westbrook Christian 21, FINAL
Jacksonville 51, Talladega 0, FINAL
Jax Christian 37, Russell (Meridian, Miss.) 6, FINAL
Moody 28, Lincoln 3, FINAL
Ohatchee 38, Piedmont 21, FINAL
Oxford 40, Pinson Valley 6, FINAL
Pleasant Valley 21, Cleveland 16, FINAL
Ranburne 28, Woodland 7, FINAL
Randolph County 46, Weaver 29, FINAL
Childersburg 42, Saks 31, FINAL
Southside 42, St. Clair County 13, FINAL
Spring Garden 15, Winterboro 6, FINAL
Wadley 32, Ragland 6, FINAL
Wellborn 21, Dadeville 12, FINAL

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

PIEDMONT — Ohatchee turned to the so-called “Ugly Eagle” offense in 2015, and the Indians have unapologetically ground and pounded their way to contender status since.

Eagles are meant to fly, however, and Ohatchee’s offense took wing in a big way at Piedmont on Friday.

Jake Roberson passed for 252 of the Indians’ 446 total yards and two touchdowns, and Ohatchee got over the top of Piedmont 38-21 in a key Class 3A, Region 6 game.

The Indians improved to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in region play, with Sylvania, Piedmont and Westbrook Christian in the rear-view mirror.

Ohatchee rebounded from a 64-34 loss to Sylvania last week. The Indians trailed 24-22 at halftime against the Rams.

“I feel like we answered the bell from last week,” Ohatchee coach Chris Findley said. “We really had to challenge them last week, especially after that second half.

“I thought we played well against Sylvania in spurts, but in the second half, they were pretty much gashing us over and over again. We had to get in the film room and get on the practice field and figure out what we’re doing and what we have to fix, and I think we answered the bell today.”

Ohatchee won for the third time in the past four games against Piedmont.

The Bulldogs fell to 1-3, 1-2 with losses to Sylvania and Ohatchee. More significant for the Bulldogs was the loss of wide receiver/running back/return man Rollie Pinto to non-contact knee injury three plays into the third quarter.

“It’s a knee,” Piedmont coach Jonathan Miller said. “I don’t think it’s the ACL, but it’s still maybe the lateral collateral (ligament). He’s going to have to get an MRI, so we’ll see.”

Piedmont already lost junior wide receiver Jalon Helm and junior offensive lineman Chris Parris to ACL injuries. Safety Trevor Pike sustained an injury in the Sylvania game but is expected to return, Miller said.

Pinto was a big part of Piedmont’s offensive plan against Ohatchee. He rushed nine times for 66 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown run, and caught two passes for 39 yards.

Piedmont needed him to keep pace with Ohatchee. Roberson completed eight of 13 passes for 252 yards, including touchdown passes of 72 and 34 yards to Colby Hester, who caught six passes for 166 yards.

Roberson, Hester and Jesse Baswell have given Ohatchee more of a passing dimension this season. Baswell had two key receptions Friday, one to convert a fourth down on Ohatchee’s game-opening touchdown drive and another to convert third and long.

“Nobody thinks we can pass, and we just had to show everybody we could,” Hester said. “Just run the right routes, and the quarterback will give me a perfect ball, catch it every time.”

Findley said the Indians flexed their passing game more Friday in reaction to how Piedmont’s defense defended the run. It was an in-game adjustment, more than a pregame plan.

The point is, this Ohatchee team can do it.

“People talk about us throwing the ball a lot more, but it’s really just trying to balance what we love to do, physically, versus the guys we’ve got,” Findley said. “Colby is guy who can go get it, and Jake can throw it, so we want to use what we’ve got and make people cover the whole field. …

“We know we have it in the bag, if we need it.”

Ohatchee built a 14-0 lead on Baswell’s 2-yard touchdown run at 5:06 of the first quarter and Robertson’s 72-yard bomb to Hester at 11:26 of the second.

Piedmont answered to force a 14-14 tie at the half. Ish Bethel struggled for the final few yards and stretched the ball over the goal line to finish off Cole Wilson’s 17-yard touchdown pass at 9:56, and Pinto’s 12-yard touchdown run tied it at 4:38.

Piedmont’s Ishmael Bethel stretches the ball over the goal line for a touchdown during the second quarter Friday at Piedmont. (Photo by Jean Blackstone/For East Alabama Sports Today)

Both teams traded punts in the third quarter, but Baswell’s 1-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth put Ohatchee up 20-14.

Piedmont’s Demetrius Owen returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown to give the Bulldogs their only lead, 21-20, but Roberson hit a drive-sustaining pass to Baswell to set up the 34-yard touchdown heave to Hester to give Ohatchee the lead for good, 26-21.

Baswell’s 2-yard touchdown run and Will Folsom’s 50-yard interception return provided the final margin.

“They did a good job tonight hitting some plays over the top, and that’s the thing about them,” Miller said. “Their skill group is really good. They’ve got … guys that can go get the ball.

“We had the lead and gave up a third-and-15-plus. We were all over him (Baswell), and the guy made a good play. It is what it is.”

Ohatchee-Piedmont updates

–Piedmont wins toss, defers. Ohatchee to receive the opening kickoff.


–Ohatchee takes the game’s first drive 65 yards in 13 plays, scores on a Jesse Baswell 2-yard run. PAT good, and Indians lead Piedmont 7-0 at 5:06. Jake Roberson hit two big pass plays on that drive, including a tight-window throw to Baswell to convert fourth down to Piedmont’s 11.

–Piedmont drives back down the field quickly, but Cole Wilson throws incomplete on fourth down from Ohatchee’s 18. Pass to the end zone before that was dropped.


–Roberson lofts a pretty 72-yard TD bomb to Colby Hester. PAT good, and Ohatchee leads 14-0 at 11:26.

–Ohatchee recovers onsides kick at Piedmont’s 40. Jaxon Tuiolosega on the recovery.

–Jacob McElroy intercepts a Roberson pass, returns to Ohatchee 32. Add a personal foul on Ohatchee, and Piedmont takes over on Indians’ 17.

–Wilson passes to Ish Bethel, who struggles for the final few yards to complete a 17-yard touchdown reception. PAT good, and Piedmont trims Ohatchee’s lead to 14-7 at 9:56.

–Rollie Pinto with a reverse and a 12-yard TD run, and PAT is good to tie the game 14-14 at 4:38.

–Nate Jones with a 63-yard run to Piedmont’s 10, but Bulldogs hold Ohatchee on downs with the help of an offensive face mask call.


–After trading punts, Ohatchee gets a 53-yard Hester catch and run to the Piedmont 3. It’s Third and goal at the 1 as the quarter ends.


–Baswell with a 1-yard TD run to give Ohatchee the lead. PAT no good. It’s 20-14 at 11:54.

–Demetrius Owen returns ensuing kickoff for TD. PAT gives Bulldogs their first lead, 21-20, at 11:40.

–Ohatchee answers with Roberson’s 34-yard TD loft to Hester. Baswell’s conversion runs comes up short. Indians lead 26-21 with 8:40 to play.

–Close call on onsides kick, but Hester recovers. Ohatchee takes over at midfield.

–Add Baswell’s 2-yard TD run for Ohatchee with 2:48 to play. Baswell’s conversion run stopped, but Ohatchee leads 32-21.

–Will Folsom with a 50-yard interception return for an Ohatchee TD. Botched snap on PAT, but Indians lead 38-21 with 1:48 to play.

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