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Bulldogs knocked out of playoff contention by South-Doyle, 16-6

The South-Doyle High School Cherokees entered Friday night’s Region 1-5A game with the Bearden Bulldogs not having won a game in two years.

They left with a 16-6 victory, leaving the Bulldogs (1-7 overall record, 1-4 in the region) frustrated and searching for answers. They were also officially eliminated from playoff contention.

After a 0-10 season last year and a 0-7 start this season, the Cherokees (1-7, 1-4 in the region) were in dire need of a victory since its last win on Oct. 11, 2002, against Karns.

“We didn’t play hard enough to beat these guys tonight,” BHS quarterback Eric Pickle said. “It’s frustrating, it’s ridiculous, they came out ready to play, we came out and had some unfortunate things happen.”

One of those unfortunate things led to the Cherokees’ first touchdown when Iiran Rogers was stripped of the ball and South-Doyle’s Orlando Lightfoot returned it 10 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.

The Bulldogs answered back on their ensuing possession when Pickle found sophomore receiver Dantae Bunch in the end-zone with a 15-yard touchdown pass.

“Good blocking by the line, good call by the coaches, and a good pass by (Pickle),” Bunch said. “Everything worked for us right there.” Bearden missed the extra point, and South-Doyle held a 7-6 advantage going into halftime.

The Cherokees scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Bryce Brentz to make it 14-6 in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Pickle was called for an intentional grounding penalty in the BHS end zone resulting in a safety, increasing the Cherokees lead to 16-6.

“Defensively we played extremely well,” BHS head coach Paul Maynard said. “I needed to see that on the defensive side of the ball.”

The Bulldogs defense forced four South-Doyle fumbles and recovered three of them. Despite giving up 371 yards of total offense, the defense surrendered only one touchdown.

The majority of South-Doyle’s yards came on the ground, gaining 261 on 46 carries. Bobby Mitchell led the way with 100 yards on 17 attempts.

“They were a fantastic 0-seventeen, they were really good, they had some playmakers and I was nervous going into it,” Maynard said. “Offensively, we self destructed and gave them nine points.”

For the first time this season, Pickle, who mainly played quarterback, was used as a linebacker in addition to his usual quarterbacking duties.

He ended the night with 15 tackles, including three on his first defensive series.

Prior to the game, Maynard said he had a policy that starting quarterbacks will never play on the defensive side of the ball.

“It’s tough to play both ways, we’ll see how it goes,” Pickle said when asked if he was going to play offensively and defensively for the rest of the year.

Since taking over the starting quarterback job midway through his sophomore year, Pickle hasn’t even worked out with the defense due to Maynard’s policy. “Eric is big and physical, he is one of the best athletes on the team,” Maynard said. “He played a heck of a game defensively, you will see it the rest of this season and next year, he is just too good of an athlete.”

Defensive end Jordan Maynard also had an impressive defensive performance for BHS with 15 tackles, including three minus-yardage hits and a fumble recovery. “That was a great game for a defensive end,” coach Maynard said.

The Bearden offense was held to minus-10 yards rushing in the game and 127 yards of total offense. The passing game proved to be the only means of gaining any ground with 137 yards through the air.

Pickle was 9 of 18 passing for 113 yards and one touchdown. Freshman Dawson Halliday threw for 24 yards, completing 2 of 5.

Bunch said, “We were playing real hard, we wanted it but I guess we didn’t want it enough. We are going to practice harder all week and next time we have to play harder.”

The Bulldogs travel to Sevierville Friday to play the 4-4 Sevier County Smoky Bears, who are in the hunt for a Region 1-5A playoff spot (2-3 region record). Sevier County is coming off a convincing victory over Jefferson County (See related story beginning on page 13).

“We are an extremely young ball club, I want to get better each game, I don’t want to go into next season no better than what we were before we played South-Doyle,” coach Maynard said. “We have to go out and continue to grow, win a couple of ball games and end the season on a good note. We are going right back to the drawing boards, we can go out and win the ball game, we just have to cut down on our mistakes.”

Opening kickoff is 7:30 p.m.


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