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Determined, versatile ’Dawgs romp Cougars 31-7

JACKSBORO — The Bearden Bulldogs showed both determined defense and a versatile offense Friday, Oct. 6, by posting a decisive 31-7 road win over the Campbell County Cougars.

The Coogs, meanwhile, remained winless (2-5 overall, 0-3 in the Region 1-5A cellar) after a stingy Bulldog defense ruined their homecoming.

The Bearden win set up a key Oct. 20 conference showdown for second-place at Sevier County, whose record this season matches Bearden’s own (6-2, 3-1) behind Dobyns-Bennett’s top-ranked Class 5A Indians (7-0, 3-0).

Despite Friday’s substantial Bulldogs victory margin, not everyone at the game was impressed with the Bulldogs’ play. Chief among those uninspired by it was Bulldogs head coach Bill Wilson.

“We had some individuals who played very well, certainly well enough for us to win,” Wilson said. “But as a team, we played poorly; so Monday, we will all go back to Square One to try and fill in all the gaps I saw.

“Luckily, we moved the ball well early, and I saw some excellent individual effort. But overall, ours was not a good defensive game. Campbell County showed me they have a good team, and although they lost, they played well as a team, full speed ahead the whole game.”

Bulldog scoring began early on a nine-play, 78-yard opening drive capped by Sean Cunningham’s three-yard touchdown. It was the start of a full night for Cunningham who later also recovered a CCHS fumble. Brandon Reagan added the extra point.

The Bulldogs were off and running as Reagan added a second-quarter, 20-yard field goal to make the Bearden lead 10-0.

Bearden quarterback Dawson Halliday’s accurate short passing then found receiver Brandon Pemberton, who broke three tackles during a 40-yard run for another Bearden TD. Reagan’s point-after boosted BHS’s first-half lead to 17-0, but Halliday didn’t rest.

Instead, he hit a favorite receiver, Torey Works, for the first of two Works touchdowns.

After the half, Works raced 15 yards for another touchdown, and Reagan kicked another extra point for a commanding 31-0 Bulldogs lead.

With six minutes left in the third quarter, Wilson began giving his Bulldog starters a breather. By then, Works already had amassed 118 yards rushing on 16 carries, plus the two touchdowns.

Defensive standout Matt Williamson, meanwhile, continued his habit of distressing opponents’ quarterbacks by appearing suddenly in their backfields. Three of his eight tackles on the night left Campbell County losing yardage, and he sacked Cougars quarterback Brance Stiner once.

Stiner’s only bright spot for the night came in the fourth quarter when Josh Purcell caught Stiner’s 23-yard touchdown pass.

The Bulldogs’ Michael Lewis caught two Halliday passes, and Aaron Gray grabbed another to keep the Dawgs’ offense moving.

Bulldog defenders, swarming all night, shut down the Cougar running game, which netted just three yards rushing for the game on 31 plays from scrimmage.

Bearden, by contrast, steadily ground out 197 yards on 33 plays. Halliday added 73 more Bulldog yards through the air by hitting half his 14 attempts with just one interception.

Three other BHS quarterbacks and eight running backs saw action. At least 25 Bearden defenders shared in the rout by posting at least one solo tackle each. Twelve of their hits resulted in negative Cougar yardage.

Each team drew seven penalties, but the Bulldog defense so dominated that the Cougars had 30 yards offense until two late-game scrambles added yardage.

Bearden’s defense controlled the line of scrimmage from the get-go and kept the Cougars bottled up in its own end of the field much of the night.

John Kelton recovered one CCHS fumble. Daane Blocksma, Brandon Pemberton and Charley Park all helped the Bulldog cause by picking off Stiner passes.

For the night, Bearden’s offense rolled up 270 yards, while Campbell County was held to 198 total yards. By intermission, the Cougars had managed just one first down and minus-13 yards offense.

The Bulldogs have a week off to prepare for their Oct. 20 contest with Sevier County, whose outcome will determine 1-5A runner-up behind top-ranked front-runner Dobyns-Bennett (a 10-6 winner over BHS earlier this season).

D-B required a fourth-quarter comeback Friday to salvage a win, 16-13, over Sevier County. Prize for the Oct. 20 winner is first-round playoff home-field advantage against a Region 2-5A opponent, which could possibly be Farragut or one of four or five teams including Oak Ridge, McMinn County or William Blount.

Wilson told his Bulldog team that CCHS is but the first of four steps leading to playoff success, but to achieve their season goals, they must play consistently as a team.

“With teamwork,” Wilson said, “I like our chances of taking all four steps.”


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