Piedmont improved to 9-0 overall and completed Region 5 play at 7-0. The Bulldogs travel to Lincoln next week and will meet J.B. Pennington at home in the first round of the 3A playoffs.
“For our kids to come out and be able to run the table in the region for three years running now, I’m real proud of that,” said Bulldogs head coach Steve Smith. “There are some quality teams in this region. You’ve got playoff traditions at Susan Moore and Glencoe and great county rivals like Saks and White Plains and Weaver.
“For our kids to be able to get up each week and come out on top I think is testament to them and our coaches for working extremely hard and preparing them each week.”
The Bulldogs started with a lost fumble and a punt. With his team trailing 3-0, Piedmont quarterback Cade Bradley found wide receiver C.J. Savage in the end zone and Savage out-maneuvered two defenders to make the catch for a 42-yard score with seven seconds left in the first quarter. Kicker Dillon Terry missed the extra point – his only miss on eight extra point attempts – but Piedmont led 6-3 and lots more points were coming.
Weaver was three-and-out on its next three possessions and Piedmont took advantage with three touchdowns.
Exavyer Jackson, starting nose tackle and occasional blocking back in Piedmont’s power I, scored on a 9-yard run. With second effort, Tre Reese ended a 65-yard drive with a 5-yard carry. With 56 seconds to go in the half, Dreek Thompson got the corner at left end for a 67-yard touchdown run and a 27-3 halftime lead.
Four touchdowns in the third quarter, three in the initial five minutes, iced the victory.
“I thought the middle two quarters we played really well, probably as well on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball as we’ve played all year long, making a lot of yards in between the tackles,” Smith said.
Thompson began the second half the way he ended the first, scoring from 49 yards out the first time he touched the ball to complete a three-play drive that lasted 36 seconds. Savage’s 20-yard punt return took the ball to the Weaver 18-yard line.
From there, Sarandon Dunbar had runs of 12 and six yards and Piedmont led 41-3. After Weaver turned the ball over at the Bearcat 44 when a fake punt failed to get first down yardage, Thompson scored his third touchdown on a 38-yard scamper with 6:59 to go in the third. Darnell Jackson’s personal one-play drive from 42 yards out capped the scoring with 3:35 remaining in the third.
Thompson’s third touchdown ended his night on offense. He ran five times on the night and gained 160 yards. Thompson has scored 10 touchdowns in Piedmont’s three most recent games. Darnell Jackson gained 80 yards on seven attempts and Dunbar rushed for 69 yards on seven carries. Bradley was 3-for-5 passing for 51 yards. Piedmont’s only pass of the second half came on the initial play of the third quarter.
Weaver took its best shot at a win with a passing attack from a varietry of formations on the game’s initial possession.
“They’ve got such hosses in the middle and we are just so light on the line ... we just knew we could not do anything with the line up the middle,” Weaver head coach Daryl Hamby said of his game plan.
Junior quarterback Timothy Hawkins completed his first three passes and four of his initial six on the opening drive. Drake Ledet had two catches. Matthew Durham and Chris Troge had one each. Hawkins even picked up nine receiving yards on a throwback from Chris English. When the drive bogged down at the Piedmont 12, Santiago Balma hit a 29-yard field goal that put Weaver up 3-0 with 6:38 to go in the first quarter.
“I thought our defense did a pretty good job of bending and not breaking forcing a field goal there and then we were able to come to the sideline and get our bearing and figure out what we were doing,” Smith said.
After Piedmont fumbled at midfield two minutes later, the Bearcats turned the ball over on downs at the Piedmont 40. Weaver never seriously threatened again.
The Bearcats, 4-5 overall and 3-4 in the region, host Wellborn Friday.