Published 12:01 am Saturday, September 26, 2009
The annual cross-county rivalry between Pike County and Goshen started off with a bang, as senior Chris “Ce-Ce” Griffin took the opening kickoff 74 yards for a touchdown.
Senior Josh Parker added a two-point conversion on a pass to Stephan Foster to put the Bulldogs (5-0, 3-0) up 8-0, and Pike County never looked back from there, as Pike County went on to win 36-14.
“That’s what we talked about before we came out,” said Pike County head coach Eddie Stephenson. “We felt like the tone needed to be set by some team and we were hoping for us. To return the opening kickoff for a touchdown was something that we were real happy about.”
Griffin gave all the credit for the big play to his blocking.
“I just wanted to make a big play for the team early on the game,” Griffin said. “It was just good blocking and everybody picked up their man.”
The early momentum did not stop there from Pike County, as they forced Goshen to punt on the Eagles’ first possession.
Then, on Pike County’s first play from scrimmage, senior Marquavous Knox took the handoff from Parker and went 88 yards for a touchdown. The extra point made it 15-0.
It looked at that point as if Pike County would roll, but Goshen would not go down without a fight.
The Eagles (2-3, 2-1) held Pike County scoreless for most of the second quarter, and got on the board with a 61-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Jerome Lawrence to sophomore Brandon Alford to cut the lead to 15-6.
“We thought we were rolling, but we went through a bit of a lull in the second quarter,” Stephenson said. “We relaxed a little bit and Goshen didn’t quit. They made a big play for them to get a score, and it became a football game.”
Goshen head coach Bart Snyder said his team’s ability to fight back was something that he was proud of.
“It was a great effort on our guys’ part,” Snyder said. “When they were up 15-0, we continued to fight, and we wound up having an opportunity. We had some big penalties that kind of broke our back.”
The penalties that Snyder spoke of came on the Bulldogs’ next possession, when they went 89 yards in five plays for a touchdown. Goshen helped out PCHS with 30 yards in personal foul penalties on the same play.
Knox capped the drive with a 19-yard touchdown.
PCHS would garb another score before halftime, as they took over at the Goshen 49 with 2:01 left to go in the first half.
Sophomore Tyshin Dawson ran four fifty yards on the drive, setting up PCHS with a first-and-goal form the Eagle 4.
Knox would then score his third touchdown of the half from four yards out. Knox also added the two-point conversion on a run to put PCHS up 30-6 heading into the break.
Knox finished the game with 151 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries.
“Marquavous is an experienced player that gets better every week,” Stephenson said. “He’s got a winner’s heart, and every time we give him the football, the kid believes he can score. You’ve got to love to turn around and hand the ball off to a kid like that.”
Knox gave the credit for his performance to his offensive line.
“I was seeing green grass out there,” Knox said. “My line was opening things up for me, and I was just taking it.”
Dawson was second in rushing yardage, running for 69 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
The second half was largely uneventful. Pike County scored to go up 36-6 on a touchdown run by Dawson late in the third quarter, after which the Bulldogs put their subs in.
Goshen would get its only score in the fourth quarter when senior Clay Bryan returned a Bulldog fumble 25 yards for a touchdown.
Sophomore Reginald Foster led Goshen in rushing, carrying the ball eight times for 81 yards.
Lawrence went 8-22 for 111 yards with a touchdown and two second-half interceptions.
The win for Pike County continues their undefeated season, something Stephenson said is big for his team’s confidence.
“It feels really good, especially being 3-0 in the region because that’s what’s most important,” Stephenson said. “It’s also big to come and win a road game. We’ve got some young guys that have to learn to play on the road, so I was excited to get the win tonight.
Griffin, who was a member of last year’s 5-5 team, said the team has been more mentally tuned this year.
“We’re just more focused this year,” Griffin said. “We go harder in practice. This year is just all about making up for last year.”
While the win was a big one for the Bulldogs, Stephenson said there is plenty of work to be done.
“We’ve got to work on what we do mentally,” Stephenson said. “It’s not an effort thing. We’re still playing with good effort, but it’s a focus issue where we’ll turn and look at the scoreboard and see ourselves up and see the other team not having a lot of success at that moment, and we’ll assume that the other team is not going to play hard.”
For Goshen, Snyder said the team must stay upbeat and play with confidence.
“We just need to improve our confidence,” Snyder said. “We come out in a ball game and spot points early. If we don’t have those two big plays tonight, we have a chance. But, you can’t give up plays like that to teams like this. We’ve just to gain confidence, and start playing like we did for the last three quarters tonight.”
While the loss was a tough one, Snyder said he remains proud of his team.
“I’m proud of our kids and this coaching staff,” Snyder said. “They all work extremely hard, and we’re learning. I just hope that the people of Goshen and Pike County understand that these guys do work hard. They’re just learning to play football.”
Both teams will play their homecoming games next week. Goshen will face R.C. Hatch in Goshen, while Pike County will take on Abbeville in Brundidge.