Piedmont’s ground game overpowers Colbert County

Special to East Alabama Sports Today

LEIGHTONPiedmont took another step forward in defense of their Class 3A crown Friday night as head coach Steve Smith unleashed a powerful ground assault that churned out more than 400 yards and five touchdowns scored five touchdowns in a 42-20 victory over Colbert County.

Quarterback Jack Hayes also moved closer to the state’s all-time passing record as he completed 10 of 16 passes for 88 yards and a touchdown.

The Bulldogs (10-2) advanced to the third round of the Class 3A state playoffs where they will host No. 2 Gordo (11-1) Friday at the Field of Champions. Gordo defeated Lauderdale County 44-14.

The teams have never met on the gridiron.

Piedmont capped the trifecta for Class 3A Region 6 as Geraldine knocked off a top 5 ranked opponent for the second consecutive week. In addition to the Bulldogs’ victory, Geraldine defeated top-ranked Mars Hill Bible 17-14 and Sylvania outlasted No. 10 Madison County 48-45 in overtime.

Colbert County, the third seed out of Region 8, stunned the Bulldogs early, forcing a punt and then scoring quickly on a 73-yard sprint from sophomore Natarruean Hampton.

But the Bulldogs answered with a 10-play drive culminated with 2-yard touchdown run by Jack Hayes. Hayes added another 1-yard scoring plunge in the first quarter to push the Bulldogs advantage to 14-0 and had a 13-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Demetrius Jones tied the game at 14-14 with 18.8 seconds remaining in the first quarter on a 3-yard run. That scored was set up by a 45-yard pass from Cannon Berryman to Caleb Stafford.

Cody Holloway had a 46-yard touchdown run for Piedmont with 11:27 left in the second quarter. After a missed 27-yard field goal attempt by the Indians, Hayes extended his career touchdown total to 154 with a 17-yard toss to Ish Bethel.

Dontavious Jordan tacked on the final score for the Bulldogs with a 3-yard burst in the fourth quarter.

Berryman found Hampton open for Colbert County’s final tally, a 17-yard pitch and catch with 5:07 left in the game. Trevor Pike blocked the extra point attempt.

This is the eighth consecutive season Piedmont has won 10 or more games. The Bulldogs are now 17-6 in second round playoff games and they have won 14 of their last 15 postseason games.

Hayes entered the game as the all-time AHSAA career leader in touchdown passes (153), total offense (13,774), and touchdowns accounted for (208). He has touchdown tosses to 20 different receivers over the course of the last five seasons. He passed Pinson Valley’s Bo Nix for second on the all-time completions list. He is 224 yards shy of JaMarcus Russell’s state record for passing yards.

Smith won’t get much rest. After the required AHSAA coaches meeting Saturday morning, the Bulldogs’ head coach will join in the 30th-year reunion of Jacksonville State’s 1992 Division II national championship team. Smith was a graduate assistant with the Gamecocks that year.

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