The win came on the heels of No. 2 Piedmont’s 26-10 win over then No. 4 Leeds at Leeds last week. Senior quarterback Ty Sparks said the players were reminded all week that they were ripe for an upset.
“I think we stayed focused all week,” Sparks said. “The coaches kept it in our heads to stay focused and I think we did that.”
Any doubt that the Bulldogs (6-0, 4-0 in Region 5) weren’t ready to play was dispelled immediately. On the opening kickoff, the Wildcats fumbled, and Taylor Hayes recovered for Piedmont at the White Plains 12-yard line.
On the first snap after the recovery, Dreek Thompson took a handoff through the left side of the Piedmont line and charged into the end zone. The first of Easton Kirk’s five extra points in seven attempts made it 7-0 Piedmont with the game just 13 seconds old.
White Plains went three-and-out and Denard Spears returned the punt 27 yards to the White Plains 24.
On first down, Sparks threw to wide receiver C.J. Savage alone in the end zone for a 13-0 lead.
“I think that’s just a tribute to our athleticism,” Sparks said of the quick start. “We have so many people that are athletic and can make plays. When we have guys like that, it’s fun to go out every Friday night and to perform.”
White Plains got its first big play on a pass from quarterback Joseph Dothard to receiver Mitchell Jones. Dothard rolled right and spotted Jones unattended about 15 yards downfield. Jones hauled in the throw and turned the play into a 76-yard score with five minutes left in the first quarter.
“They ran little reverse pass on us right there and caught us napping. It was a good call on their part,” Piedmont coach Steve Smith said.
Piedmont’s Cody Daughtry blocked the extra-point attempt but the Wildcats had cut Piedmont’s lead to 13-6.
The rest of the opening half belonged to the Bulldogs. A long kickoff return by Thompson set up Jaret Prater’s personal one-play drive, a 40-yard scoring run, and Sparks ran over right tackle for a 2-point conversion.
After the Wildcats punted, Piedmont needed just two plays to score again. Sparks hit Spears coming back across the middle and Spears did the rest, picking up blockers to score from 51 yards out. Exavyer Jackson’s extra point end the first-quarter scoring with 56 seconds on the clock.
In the second quarter, junior quarterback Tyler Lusk capped a 72-yard march with a 20-yard scoring run, Neonta Alexander scored on a 5-yard carry and Savage returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown. At intermission, Piedmont led 48-6.
“Defensively, I thought we executed pretty well the game plan in the first half, were able to stop that power running attack,” Smith said. “We were able to get off the field, got some three-and-outs and forced a lot of punts in the first half.”
Neither team scored in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs were on the move, and Alexander tallied on an 11-yard rush around left end on the first play of the fourth quarter. Kirk’s kick made it 55-6. Trevaughn Carpenter’s 20-weave through traffic made it 62-6 with seven minutes to play. Twenty seconds later, Rod Young scored on a 64-yard run for White Plains and kicked the extra point himself. Piedmont’s final points came on a 63-yard run by freshman Austin Brazier with 1:15 remaining.
Ten players had carries for Piedmont. Brazier finished with 75 yards on five tries. Lusk ran six times for 69 yards. Carpenter had 58 yards on five carries and Tre Reese ran twice for 46 yards.
Sparks was 5-of-5 passing for 121 yards, all in the first half. Lusk completed four of his seven attempts for 45 yards. Spears had three receptions for 87 yards.
Dontavius Thomas followed Young in rushing for the Wildcats with 40 yards. Dillon Greenwood had two interceptions.