Saturday, October 22, 2011

Carolina Gridiron Game of the Week - Week 10 Postgame Wrap-up

THOMASVILLE – It was a chilly night at Thomasville’s Cushwa Stadium as the hometown Bulldogs took on the defending 2AA state champion Salisbury Hornets.  Although Thomasville came into the game with a 4-5 record, this was a battle to see who would site at the top of the Central Carolina 2A conference.  Thomasville was not intimidated by their opponent this evening as they took advantage of multiple Salisbury turnovers on their way to a 34-27 victory.

Salisbury won the opening toss and elected to defer to the second half, a decision that would later prove ill-fated.  Thomasville took the opening kickoff and returned it to their own 45, but were unable to move the ball on a defense that featured the defending 2AA championship game defensive MVP, Kavari Hillie.  A bad bounce on the punt return forced Salisbury to cover it up at their own 13 yard line.

Salisbury went to work on their option offense, but a bad pitch led to a recovered fumble by Thomasville’s Dezmond Wilson on the Hornet 26 yard line.  Running with senior Shaquan Johnson, the Bulldogs were able to get the ball inside the 10 yard line, but were unable to get in the end zone, instead settling for a 21 yard field goal by Rob Styers.

Salisbury, who rarely passes, went for a 46 yard bomb to Jon Hall near the end of the first quarter to get the ball in Thomasville territory.  When the second quarter began, the Hornets were inside the Bulldogs’ 10 and punched it in on a 2 yard run by Max Allen making the score 7-3 in favor of the visiting team.

Thomasville looked to take the fight right back to Salisbury with a huge kickoff return by Quindale Williams to the Salisbury 16 yard line.  A horse collar penalty drew half the distance to the goal line and Thomasville was inside the Hornet 10 again looking to score.  But, the Bulldogs were unable to find paydirt on their second trip deep inside Salisbury territory, and another Styers field goal put the score at 7-6 Salisbury at the 10:09 mark of the second quarter.

Salisbury came right back behind some big runs by Dominique Dismuke.  A 14 yard score was called back for holding, so Dismuke decided to go for it again and scored on the next play.  The PAT was blocked and the Hornets led by a single score, 13-6.

Not wanting to be outdone by his running back counterpart from Salisbury, Thomasville’s Shaquan Johnson put his team on his back and fought for yard after yard in the second quarter, even converting a critical fourth down from the Hornet 29 yard line.  A 17 yard pass from Shameek Peterson to Dezmond Wilson landed the Bulldogs down on the 3 yard line, leading to a score on the next play by Shaquan Johnson.  The snap on the PAT was bad and Thomasville was unable to tie the game, leaving the score 13-12 as the clock showed 2:27 left in the first half.

As they had the whole night, special teams seemed to hurt the Hornets as Salisbury fumbled the kickoff and Thomasville recovered at the Salisbury 28 yard line.  Thomasville made Salisbury pay with this turnover as Shaquan Johnson rushed for his second touchdown of the night and the resulting two point conversion.  At halftime, the scoreboard read 20-13 in favor of the home team.

Salisbury received the second half kickoff, but was unable to move the ball against a now fired-up Thomasville defense.  A bad snap on the punt attempt led to Thomasville gaining possession at the Salisbury 1 yard line.  Shaquan Johnson ran for his third touchdown of the evening, making the score 27-13 early in the second half.

This awakened the Salisbury offense and they quickly went to work, moving the ball down the field and being aided by some Thomasville penalties.  Dominique Dismuke ran for his second touchdown of the night from the 3 yard line, making it a one score game again.

Thomasville was not able to get a first down on the ensuing possession, but Salisbury’s special teams fell apart again as they fumbled the punt return.  Thomasville did not take advantage of the turnover though, fumbling the ball right back to the Hornets on a failed reverse on the next play.

As the clock was winding down in the third period, Salisbury again went to the air for a big pass and along with another personal foul penalty, found themselves inside the Thomasville 10 as the final quarter began.

Three plays into the fourth quarter, Salisbury found itself with a fourth and goal situation, and Coach Joe Pinyan decided to go for six points instead of three.  Dominique Dismuke did not let his coach down and ran for his third score of the night, and the scoreboard showed a 27-27 tie in a battle for first place in the conference.

Thomasville got the ball back and went to work driving down the field, eating up a lot of clock in the process.  But, the Bulldogs were unable to convert on a fourth down at the Salisbury 19 yard line, giving the ball back to the Hornets with around five minutes to play.

Salisbury drove into Thomasville territory and looked like they were going to be able to kick the winning field goal, but a great defensive play led to a fumble by the Hornets, and who else was there to recover the fumble but Shaquan Johnson.  Making the defensive play of the night, Johnson gave his team the ball at their own 18 yard line with only 57 seconds left in the game.

Just when it looked like overtime was bound to happen, Thomasville’s Shakeem Peterson found a streaking Shaquan Johnson down the sideline for a 72 yard touchdown with only 22 seconds left in the game.  The Bulldogs took a 34-27 lead, but the big question was whether or not the touchdown should have even counted.  A live-ball sideline violation was called on the Bulldogs during the play, their second of the night.  Earlier, when it was called, the officials went back to the original line of scrimmage and marked off 5 yards.  This time though, they counted the touchdown and moved the kickoff back 15 yards.  Salisbury’s Hail Mary pass attempt as the clock ran out was knocked down and Thomasville players ran on the field celebrating their big win.

After the game, Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan had the following to say about the game: “it was a good game…people will probably talk about this one for a while.  It hurts to lose a game like this, but I hope it makes them hungry on Monday…we still have one game left next week and five more after that.”

Check with Carolina Gridiron for information about future games of the week.