“We kind of lost our identity a little bit last week without being able to run the ball successfully,” Piedmont coach Steve Smith said. “We didn’t have a long, elaborate game plan this week. We told them we were going to be able to run the powers in between the tackles. If it was the only thing we did, we were going to be able to do that.”
Smith’s players took his admonition to heart. By halftime, Piedmont had rushed for almost 300 yards. Six of Piedmont’s seven first-half touchdowns came on running plays. When the contest ended, Piedmont had 391 yards rushing even though no starter touched the ball after intermission.
“I’m real proud of how our offensive line responded tonight,” Smith said. “I thought our running backs ran hard. We got good downfield blocking by the receivers. Just a good team effort on the offensive side.”
Sophomore Darnell Jackson was the lead ‘Dog in the ground game. Jackson ran nine times for 146 yards and three touchdowns, all in the first half.
“We already knew we weren’t going to be region champs so we had to bounce back, regain the momentum for our team and get back on track,” Jackson said.
Momentum smiled at Piedmont quickly. Neonta Alexander gave the Bulldogs field position by returning the opening kickoff 11 yards to the Piedmont 41-yard line. Jackson started the six-play drive, all on the ground, with a 24-yard run and ended it with an 11-yard scamper. Easton Kirk, 8-for-8 on extra points, made it 7-0 three minutes into the evening.
Weaver threatened immediately. Freshman Paul Hubbard carried a reverse 42 yards to the Piedmont 22 on the Bearcats’ second snap. On third down, senior quarterback Timothy Hawkins threw into the end zone for classmate Austin Jennings. Piedmont safety Tyler Lusk had inside position by the time the ball arrived and made the interception. The remainder of the half, Weaver had just three first downs.
“The thing that we’ve talked about and talked is when bad things happen, get over them and we haven’t done that yet,” said Weaver coach Daryl Hamby. “We’ve got to let that stuff roll off our backs and get ready to play the next play.”
After a pass interference penalty, Jackson ran for 12 yards. Quarterback Ty Sparks and wide receiver Denard Spears hooked up for a 37-yard gain and Jackson followed with a 13-yard scoring run.
The scoring parade continue when Lusk entered at quarterback and threw long to C.J. Savage for 52 yards on the first snap of Piedmont’s ensuing possession.
The Bulldogs got four more scores in the second stanza. Dreek Thompson ran 26 yards for a 28-0 lead. Jaret Prater followed with a 24-yard touchdown. Jackson tallied for the third time from 25 yards out. It was 49-0 when Thompson scored again with 1:35 to go in the half, this time from 10 yards away after a 40-yard pickup by Jackson.
When the half ended, Piedmont had seven possessions and seven touchdowns.
With four minutes gone in the third quarter, Lusk ran 31 yards to boost Piedmont’s lead to 56-0.
From there, Weaver scored twice. Senior Chris Arnold took a toss sweep around left end and scored from 67 yards out midway through the third. Sophomore Delo Forbes ran 43 yards up the middle with eight minutes to play.