“They know us and we know them,” Piedmont coach Steve Smith said. “When they’ve had their best success against us is when they’ve done a lot of stunting and things so in the game plan tonight we had some things to where we’d get the ball quickly out to some of our guys in space in a one-on-one situation and let them have a chance to make a play. Just like I thought would happen, with all the pressure that Glencoe was bringing early (defensively) they had some big plays but when you do all the stunting you lend yourself to giving up some big ones.”
It didn’t take Piedmont long to set the game plan in motion. Despite making terrible field position worse with a procedure penalty at the start of their second possession, the Bulldogs covered 87 yards in just two plays. First, quarterback Ty Sparks hit wide receiver Cody Daughtry downfield for 24 yards. On the next snap, speedy C.J. Savage blew past his defender and Sparks hit him on a fly pattern that covered 63 yards down the Glencoe sideline. The kick failed but Piedmont led 6-0 with 6:53 left in the opening quarter.
After trading punts, Piedmont was in business again thanks to an interception by Darnell Jackson at the Glencoe 39-yard line. Taylor Hayes kept the drive going with a third down conversion then Sparks hooked up with Jackson for a 28-yard scoring pass. Exavyer Jackson, who was 3-for-3 on extra points for the night, made it 13-7.
Glencoe tallied its only points on the ensuing possession. After a short kickoff, quarterback Dylan Stone got to the corner at left end and raced 65 yards to score. With 9:04 still to play before halftime, Joseph Bright’s kick made it 13-7 Piedmont.
Stone’s run was the biggest gain of the night for the Yellow Jackets. The junior had a 10-yard carry later in the second quarter and a 14-yard pickup late in the third but no other Glencoe running plays gained double digits. Stone had 86 yards rushing at intermission but netted just four more yards on seven tries in the second half.
Piedmont tacklers dropped Glencoe runners for losses 11 times on the night, seven in the second half. Running back Thomas Ozmint never had an opening. His 15 carries netted just 10 yards.
“Everything we do is a read. That’s the reason they were hammering Thomas inside which opened up running lanes on the outside. That’s the reason Dylan was successful. That’s the way our running game is designed,” said Glencoe coach Lee Ozmint. “You can stop one. Hopefully, you can’t stop the other. Here again, they’re just very athletic. That’s the most athletic team I’ve seen since I’ve been here. I thought they were good last year. They’re better this year.”
“The thing is when you do a lot of one back or no back, you know you’re only keying two people,” Smith said of Piedmont’s defensive philosophy. “Really, they run the zone read and the zone keeper and they’ll mix a trap in every now and then but the trap didn’t really mess with our keys that much with what we were keying in the backfield.”
Not to be outdone by his Glencoe counterpart, Sparks showed he could run, too, the next time Piedmont had the ball. His 49-yard keeper over left guard ended the first half scoring with 6:55 on the clock when Piedmont’s 2-point conversion attempt came up short.
The second half was all Bulldogs. Jacob Clark recovered an onside kick attempt at the Piedmont 42 and a penalty moved Piedmont five yards closer. On first down, Sparks threw short to Savage who danced past two defenders then outran a third for a 53-yard touchdown. Dreek Thompson ran for the 2-point play, pushing Piedmont ahead 27-7 with 11:47 left in the third.
A fumble recovery by Dalton Barber ended Glencoe’s most serious scoring threat of the second half at the Piedmont 25 with 5:12 to play in the third. An exchange of punts put Piedmont at the Piedmont 23 but Darnell Jackson needed just one snap to change that and the scoreboard. Jackson took a speed sweep from left to the right end, cut back across the middle and scored near the pylon on the Piedmont sideline and the Bulldogs led 34-7.
Glencoe’s second straight three-and-out series left Piedmont at the Piedmont 40. Thompson picked up 20 yards on an inside carry. From the Glencoe 40, Thompson headed up the middle again, slipped away from a would-be tackler at the 20 and scored standing up. Exavyer Jackson, who booted the final two extra points, made it 41-7 ten seconds into the fourth quarter.
Darnell Jackson ran six times for 127 yards. Thompson gained 65 yards on six tries and sparks finished with 56 rushing yards on two attempts.
Sparks was 7-for-13 passing for 200 yards. Lusk completed five of his nine throws for 77 yards despite a pair of dropped balls. Savage accounted for 165 yards receiving on four catches. Denard Spears had five receptions for 56 yards.