Pike County downs Opp, looks ahead to Trinity Presbyterian

Published 12:32 am Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Pike County Bulldogs capped off their regular season with a win 19-8 over the Opp Bobcats.

With the win, the Bulldogs improve to 6-4 on the season.

Pike County won the game by dominating the first half and forcing turnovers.

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On the opening possession of the game, the Bulldogs marched down to the Bobcat nine-yard line on the legs of Lamarcus Adair and the arm of Jerrell Lawson. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the drive stalled and kicker Antonio Vaznaian pushed a field goal attempt to the left.

Opp took over at their own 20-yard line and drove as far as the Bulldog 18-yard line before Pike County stiffened. The Bulldogs forced the Bobcats in to a fourth-and-nine and denied the conversion, batting down a William Davis pass.

The offense took over and would not be denied the end zone. Adair got things started for the Bulldogs by ripping off a 30-yard run on the drive’s first play. Seven plays and 45 yards later, Lawson connected with receiver Stevie Smiley on a seven-yard drag route for the game’s first score. A missed extra point made the score 6-0.

On their next drive, the Bobcats drove in to Bulldog territory, but, once again, the Pike County defense bent but did not break. On a fourth down attempt, Lamarcus Adair batted away a Davis pass, and the Bulldogs took over on downs.

Pike County went three-and-out on its next possession. The Bulldog defense, however, made a big play to get the ball back to its offense. Raheem Pearson forced and recovered a fumble to give Pike County the ball at its own 27-yard line.

Given a second chance, the Bulldog offense wasted no time in scoring. Pike County promptly marched down the field, and Lawson connected with Smiley again, this time on a 13-yard slant, to give the Bulldogs a 12-0 halftime lead.

Coming out of the break, Opp looked like a different team. On the opening drive of the second half, the Bobcats methodically moved the ball and scored their opening points of the game. Davis connected with Judson Adkins to cut the Bulldog lead to 12-6.

In the middle of the third quarter, Opp pinned the Bulldogs down at their own seven-yard line on a punt. On the Bulldogs’ next play, Lawson was sacked by Jaiquan Wade in the end zone for a safety to further trim the Pike County lead to 12-8. It would be the last points the Bobcats would score on the night.

On the ensuing Pike County drive, the Bulldogs drove down to the Bobcat red zone but could not punch the ball in from three yards out, turning the ball over on downs.

The Bulldog defense returned the ball to the offense when Cory Batie intercepted a Davis pass and returned it to midfield. The offense capitalized on the turnover with a 23-yard Adair touchdown run on an option pitch. A Vaznaian extra point gave Pike County a 19-8 lead in the fourth quarter.

The Bobcats attempted to rally, but a Smiley interception sealed the win for the Bulldogs.

Lawson paced the way for the Bulldogs on offense completing 12 of 18 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns. Raheem Perason led on defense recording 12 tackles and forcing and recovering a fumble.

Lawson credited his offensive line with his big game. “It started with the o-line,” Lawson said. “They held guys up and our receivers came out motivated to make plays. I’ve been coming along better this year because of coach Waters and coach Bedsole. They work me every day to break my pet peeves.”

Receiver Stevie Smiley said work in practice led to his big game. “I went to practice and worked hard all week,” Smiley said. “I wanted t go out and make big plays. It feels good to score those first two touchdowns. It let’s you know that you’re a playmaker and a go-to receiver.”

After the game, coach Holland said he was pleased with the way his team performed. “Coming off last week, we played a whole lot better,” Holland said. “We try to get better each week. I think the kids realize that they didn’t play up to their potential last week. We viewed this as an opportunity to get back to playing tough, physical Pike County football. I think we did that tonight.”

The win gives the Bulldogs a little momentum heading in to their playoff match up with Trinity next week. Holland said it was just what the team needed. “The win means a lot to us because it validates our preparation,” Holland said. “The kids worked hard and talked about wanting to get a win going in to the playoffs. It gives us confidence going in to our game against a tough region champion.”

Even with the playoffs a week away, Holland said his team’s focus will remain the same, “I think we do a good job each week with our practicing and our game planning,” Holland said. “We’re going to keep the kids in the same routine. The only difference now is that you have to win to keep playing.”

Pike County travels to Montgomery to play Trinity Presbyterian in the first round of the playoffs next week.