Pike County pounds Fultondale in first round
Published 3:00 am Saturday, November 8, 2014
The Pike County Bulldogs came ready to play Friday night against the Fultondale Wildcats in the first round of the 3A playoffs.
Pike County beat the Wildcats 41-16, after scoring three times in the first half and securing their lead over Fultondale.
Pike County head coach Fred Holland said the Bulldogs had been able to capitalize on errors by the Wildcats throughout the game.
“We had two previous games where we started slow,” Holland said. “We’ve talked about coming out early and not always playing from behind and execution. That made a big difference. We got a couple of opportunities to score and we capitalized on them. Tonight was an opportunity for them to do that, and we took advantage of it.”
Holland said the Bulldogs, 6-4 for the season and 4-2 for their region, faced a tough opponent with their first round matchup against the Wildcats, but following their defeat of Fultondale, Holland said the teams had matched up well together.
“I’m proud of the kids for what they did,” Holland said. “One thing about it is we had a great week of practice. Coming off of a loss, it talks a lot about preparation. It talks about doing things a little bit better than we did the week before. Like I was telling the kids, we have an opportunity to get better. Being in the playoffs is a way for you to get better.”
Leading the offense for the night for Pike County was Deshon Cowling with 98 kick-return yards, nine carries for 44 yards, a fumble recovery and two touchdowns.
Following the Bulldogs’ win, Cowling said the team had come onto the field with a great attitude that lasted through the final buzzer.
“I knew we were going to win from the jump,” Cowling said. “We were too hyped at the start of the game all the way through the end of the game. We were just hyped. Period.”
Cowling’s biggest play of the night was a kick return brought back for a touchdown. While Cowling had one defender to beat on the play, Cowling said he knew he could take the Fultondale player.
“I felt like they kicked out of their coverage,” Cowling said. “There was someone in front of me, but I knew I could beat him. I thought I caught it, and I kept running. I just felt like I wasn’t going to be stopped at all.”
Leading the defense for the team was Xavier Allen with 14 tackles for the Bulldogs. Stevie Smiley, who accounted for nine Bulldog tackles Friday night, followed Allen close behind. With one of Allen’s best games of the season, Allen said he felt the Bulldog defense played well Friday.
“I believe defense played a dominant role tonight,” Allen said. “They stopped the offense from scoring tonight and stopped them from gaining yards. They just executed. They played well.”
Cory Batie had one interception for the Bulldogs and accounted for three tackles. Batie had three touchdowns for the night, and said following the game he was thankful to have been able to come out and play as well as he did.
“First thing I thought was that we always have the wall set up,” Batie said. “As soon as I saw the wall, I just hit it. It helped us a lot. During practice, coach always tells us to go to the highest point and catch the ball. When I went out there, that’s what I did. I went out to the highest point and caught it.”
The Pike County Bulldogs will face Gordo High School in the next round of playoffs after Gordo beat their first round opponent, Hillcrest Evergreen, 47-6.
Holland said he expects just as tough of competition from the Greenwave.
“I’m expecting them to get tougher as we go,” Holland said. “I don’t expect anything to be different, because Gordo did everything they needed to do to get to where they are. We feel like it will be another tough contest.”