Sep. 4—The Pisgah Bears kept the good times rolling on Friday, moving to 3-0 with a dominant 42-14 victory over the Hampton Bulldogs from Tennessee.
"When you look at the game overall, I thought that our kids played really well in the three phases of the game," Pisgah head coach Brett Chappell said. "It's a big deal for us to play well at home. We had another great crowd.
The game was the second time the Bears have played at home this season, and the Pisgah Nation turned up in full force again.
"It was great to be back at home," junior wide receiver and defensive back Sawyer Belue said. The crowd was into it like they were two weeks ago. It was great."
Bears start hot
Hampton deferred and gave Pisgah the ball to start the game. Just five plays later, the Bears were in the end zone thanks to a touchdown pass from junior quarterback Aaron Clark to Belue.
"It's great, but I couldn't do it without our line blocking and Aaron getting it to me and our other receivers opening up holes for me," Belue said.
Hampton got the ball, ran it three times and was forced to punt after gaining only four yards.
"We knew what they wanted," Chappell said. "We knew they wanted three yards in a cloud of dust."
Senior Breydon Reynolds broke off a 19-yard rush to open the drive before Clark found senior Cadden Davis for a 14-yard gain on the next play.
The offense found its rhythm early, and on the third play of the drive, Clark scampered for a 21-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 14-0 after less than nine minutes.
"[My blockers and receivers are] the most important part of it," Clark said. "If I didn't have any of that, I wouldn't have even scored. I gotta give props to both the receivers and the linemen."
The game looked like it could get out of hand early, like last week's 56-3 victory over Enka. The Bulldogs finally got things churning with a long run from Dominique Burleson.
Hampton drove all the way down to Pisgah's 15-yard line before encountering a fourth-and-six scenario. The Bulldogs lined up in a heavy set, but the Bears defense held the visitors to a three-yard gain and gave the ball back to their offense to close out the first quarter.
Pisgah opened the second quarter with a third and four deep in its own territory. A false start pushed that back to a third and nine that Bears picked up by the skin of their teeth.
However, that was not the last time Pisgah faltered on that drive, as holding was called on the following first down to push it to a first and 20. Clark was tackled for a nine-yard loss, completed a five-yard pass and then was sacked on third down. The Bears punted on a fourth and 33 from their own 11-yard line.
Hampton started with the ball just across its side of the 50. Senior quarterback Dylan Trivette threw the ball more, and the Bulldogs found the end zone with a goal-line rush from Burleson.
"When they were able to sneak a few receivers out, they get everyone's eyes locked inside because they're going run, run, run, run, run," Chappell said. "Then all of a sudden, they pop one out."
In fact, the Bulldogs passed for more yards than Pisgah (142 to 123) in addition to outrushing the Bears (197 to 186).
Pisgah bounced back after the touchdown, with Belue intercepting the two-point conversion attempt to keep the score at 14-6.
The Bears offense ate the clock away with a four-minute drive that ended with back-to-back direct snaps to Reynolds, who forced his way into the end zone after converting on a fourth and two on his first attempt.
"We're giving a lot of different looks," Chappell said. "You've got to cover a lot of stuff with us."
Hampton got the ball back with less than a minute left. The Bulldogs abandoned their heavy set and ended up at the eight-yard line before the final play of the half ended with Belue picking up a tackle at the three-yard line on fourth down to send the game into the locker room with Pisgah leading 21-6.
"We played really well from start to finish," Chappell said. "We had some low places in there, but our kids did really well coming out of halftime. We made a few adjustments and really challenged the team."
Pisgah rolls in second half
Hampton got the ball first out of halftime but was forced to punt after the drive stalled out after one first down. Junior Jake Lowery was shaken up on the punt with a shoulder injury and did not return to the game.
"We don't think there's anything broken there," Chappell said. "We may have to rest him for a week. We've got conference coming up in two weeks, so we've got to be concerned with that. He's a big piece of what we do in everything: offense, defense and special teams. We've got some good players that can step in and contribute, too."
Pisgah drove down the field on the drive, and Clark found Belue a few yards short of the end zone before the receiver turned upfield, avoided a tackle and found paydirt to push the lead to 28-6.
"The fact that we're able to move the ball around and have different people who can contribute and we just don't have those "me" guys," Chappell said. "We're very unselfish. [Sophomore] Landon [Pope] did not get hardly as many carries as he's used to, but he was phenomenal in his blocking. He helped us tremendously. He never said a word. He was a great example of a kid that was unselfish. He got in there and got it done and helped his teammates."
The ensuing kickoff featured one of the biggest hits of the game. Senior Cuyler Franklin wrapped up the return man before junior Kenyon Moore came in with a physical hit.
"'I'm gonna get him. He's going down,'" Moore said when asked what was going through his mind on the kickoff. "And he went down."
Moore had a great game on the defensive and special teams side of the ball. He created havoc on almost every play.
"He played really well out in the open field," Chappell said. "You love to see that. I told him after the game that when I was a running back in high school and up into college, he was that kid on the defensive side I hated playing against because they were always cutting your legs out. You just hated playing against guys like that. He understands leverage really well and has made some really good open-field tackles."
Moore said he just wanted to make sure he was making the plays he needed to make.
"I just wanted to make the crowd happy, make my teammates happy, make big plays and win the game tonight," he said.
Pisgah's defense closed the third quarter with a third-down sack by senior Tytus Bridges. Hampton had to punt to open the fourth quarter, with the ball rolling dead at the Bears' 18-yard line.
Nine plays later, Clark picked up his second rushing touchdown of the night to extend the Bears lead to 35-6.
Clark finished the night going 11-13 through the air for 123 yards, two touchdowns, and a team-leading 82 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
"Aaron has had a clean pocket," Chappell said. "He's able to deliver to his receivers, and they've made plays for us. His ability to scramble has helped us as well for him to move out of the pocket when he needs to."
Hampton turned it over on downs again, and Pisgah ran the ball on its possession before sophomore backup quarterback Matthew Mehaffey kept the ball on a running play for a 17-yard touchdown. Pisgah led 42-6.
"I felt like we prepared really well," Chappell said. "I thought our coaches really got in there and got after film. We found some things that we thought might help us. They gave us a couple of different coverages that caught us early, and then we were able to make a few adjustments."
On the Bulldogs' final possession, they broke off runs of 39, 12 and 17 yards before eventually finding the end zone and converting the following two-point conversion to seal the final score of 42-14.
Chappell said one of the major keys for the game against the unfamiliar foe was making mid-game adjustments to what they saw from their opponents.
"It's fun coaching when your kids can be coached on the fly," he said. "We're making adjustments on the fly. It's fun to be a part of right now."
The Bears return to action on Friday with their final non-conference game of the season. They will hit the road to Hayesville to take on the undefeated Yellowjackets at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Sep. 8.