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No.7 state-ranked ’Dawgs rally behind fake punt

Sometimes you have to do something out of the ordinary to get the momentum on your side.

For the state’s No. 7-ranked Bearden Bulldogs football team, a fake punt did the trick as BHS held off Science Hill for a 21-7 win Friday, Oct. 5, at Bearden’s Bill Young Field.

Faced with a fourth-and-two with 8:32 left in third quarter and trailing 7-6, Bearden head coach Brad Taylor knew it was time to gain control of the game.

The first year head coach called for a fake punt that in turn gave Bearden the push it needed. Bearden upback Mark Slay took the snap and passed to Brandon Sapp, who scampered 15 yards down the sideline to give the Bulldogs a first down on the Science Hill 43.

Three plays later Preston Rouse took a handoff and ran it into the end zone from 19 yards out to give Bearden its first lead of the game, 13-7 with 7:27 left in the third quarter.

“That really turned it around for us,” Taylor said. “It’s scary to call sometimes but you have to use that sometimes. It turned a switch on for us and we kind of woke up and started taking it to them a little bit.”

The fake punt was the first of Taylor’s coaching career and the risk paid off.

“I didn’t even second guess it,” the coach said. “I just said it and didn’t say another word about it. We have been practicing it all year. We knew we were going to have to use it sometime but we executed it well and it really changed the momentum for us.”

From there, the Bulldogs kept the pressure on the Hilltoppers by controlling the ground game. Senior Torey Works did most of the damage by running for 201 yards on 32 carries.

Works scored the final Bearden touchdown with a 3-yard run at the end of the third quarter. Halliday took a low snap and found Matt Williamson in the end zone for a two-point conversion that closed out the scoring 21-7.

After a slow start offensively, it was the Bearden defense that kept the Bulldogs in the game. The defense, which has allowed only 16 points in the last three games, kept the Hilltoppers in check while the Bearden offense could find its rhythm.

“Our defense played outstanding,” Taylor said. “Our defensive coordinator [Brian Tanner] did a fantastic job. Our defense has played unbelievable all year. “

The Bulldogs are unaccustomed to slow starts, but going into halftime Taylor knew it was only a matter of time before the offense came together.

“We were very flat and we talked about it,” Taylor said. “I’m no great speech man or anything. I just said we have to stay calm and we’ve got the talent to take care of this and these guys believe they are good and that’s more than anything I can say to get them fired up.”

Works felt the first half woes we due to a lack of communication between he and the offensive linemen. After talking with the line at halftime, Works looked like a different back out there, and it paid off big time.

“You can’t have a good line and a good running back if you don’t communicate,” Works said. “If you don’t communicate you ain’t going nowhere. It’s the best group of kids I know that talk to each other and get the job done.”

Science Hill got on the scoreboard first when a Dawson Halliday pass was intercepted and returned for a 51-yard score by Zach Jordan with 5:07 left in the second quarter. Bearden answered with a Halliday 5-yard touchdown run with eight seconds remaining in the first half. Brandon Reagan’s extra-point attempt was blocked to leave the score 7-6.

“We had to dig ourselves out of a hole,” Works said. “But if it’s one thing I know about these boys, we are pretty good at starting them holes and digging our way out anyway.”


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