PCHS comes up short for region title

Published 11:56 pm Friday, October 23, 2015

Photo/Mike Hensley The Bulldogs gathered before their game against Daleville on Friday.

Photo/Mike Hensley
The Bulldogs gathered before their game against Daleville on Friday.

The Pike County Bulldogs came up one-yard short of a region championship in Friday’s heartbreaking 20-15 loss to Daleville.

“Regardless of the outcome, our kids showed a lot of heart,” said Bulldogs head coach Fred Holland. “We had a couple bad breaks at the end but overall the guys played good. I can’t say enough how hard my guys played tonight.”

The Bulldogs came into Friday night’s game tied with the Warhawks atop the Class 3A Region 2 standings.

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The Warhawks went down the field on the opening possession of the game and ran all over the Pike County defense, something the Bulldogs haven’t allowed all year long. After a 12-play drive, the Warhawks scored from 11 yards out to take an early 7-0 lead.

The Bulldogs wasted no time in their first possession and went on an 11-play drive that consisted of 10 runs. Kamari Jackson closed out the scoring drive with an 11-yard run to even things up at 7-7.

The Bulldogs recovered an onside kick at midfield, but couldn’t take advantage going three-and-out.

After two straight touchdowns, both defenses stiffened and forced three straight three-and outs midway though the second quarter.

Penalties held back the Bulldogs during the first half who struggled to get anything going as a result.

Both teams entered the locker room tied, 7-7. Senior and team leader Deshaun Cowling, who has been instrumental in the Bulldogs success, was limited to only 24 yards on 7 carries.

Jackson was the leader for the Bulldogs in the opening half. He finished the half with 32 total yards including the first quarter touchdown.

Quarterback Jerrell Lawson finished the half with 12 yards rushing and 47 yards of passing.

Cowling came out like a new man after halftime and ran the ball five times in the opening drive for 50 yards. With the ball in Warhawk territory, Jackson took the ball and lost 13 yards, killing the drive for the Bulldogs.

The theme all evening for both offenses was the inability to finish long drives. Pike County had drives of nine plays, eight plays and seven plays during the game without scoring during those drives.

After the eight-play drive by the Bulldogs failed, the Warhawks went on a 13-play drive that also ended without any points.

From there the game changed dramatically.

The Warhawks were able to get the ball back with the fourth quarter just getting under way. They were able to go on a long drive that culminated with a quarterback sneak to give the game its first points since the first quarter. More importantly it gave the Warhawks the lead, 14-7.

Down by a touchdown with 3:54 remaining in the game, the Bulldogs couldn’t get anything going and had to punt the ball away. After forcing a three and out they gained possession with 1:35 remaining. On the first play Lawson connected with Colby Batie on the sideline who ran from 41-yards out for the touchdown. The Bulldogs elected to go for two. After Lawson and Cowling ran into each other, Cowling was able to bust through the line to give the Bulldogs the 15-14 lead.

The Bulldogs relied heavily on their senior leadership all evening long. Players like Lawson, Cowling and Jackson really stepped up when it mattered the most.

“They were extremely good,” Holland said. “We had several guys step up tonight and I’m extremely proud of them for that. We just came up on the short side of the stick that doesn’t take anything way from the guys that worked so hard. “

With 1:15 remaining and two timeouts the Warhawks had plenty of time to go down the field and attempt the game winning field goal. They did one better and were able to punch the ball in the end zone to give them a 20-15 lead with under 20 seconds remaining.

The Bulldogs were able to return the kickoff to the Warhawks 48-yard line with just seven seconds remaining.

Lawson floated a pass to Jackson who hauled in the ball around the 20-yard line. Jackson ran for a few and attempted to leap towards the goal line but he was knocked out of bounds at the one-yard line as time expired.

It is the first loss of the season for the Bulldogs. They will close out the season against non-regional opponent Washington County next Friday on senior night. “We are going to come back on Sunday and regroup,” Holland said. “We are going to try and get better at things we need to get better at. Tonight was a tough night for us but we will bounce back.”