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Bulldogs Battle – Anniston vs. Piedmont

Bulldogs battle

Piedmont, AL – Anniston builds big lead, then holds off furious Piedmont rally in fourth quarter to remain unbeaten, knock off a No. 1

Anniston quarterback Kam Sandlin (7) led the Bulldogs to a 30-7 lead late in the third quarter. (Photo by Greg Warren)
Anniston quarterback Kam Sandlin (7) led the Bulldogs to a 30-7 lead late in the third quarter. (Photo by Greg Warren)

By Al Muskewitz

Anniston carried a 23-point lead into the fourth quarter Thursday night and Bulldogs coach Rico White was still as nervous as he’s ever been on the sidelines. It was nothing against the resolve of his defense, he just knows the way Piedmont with Jack Hayes at the controls can come back on people. Top-ranked 3A Piedmont almost pulled off another miracle comeback reminiscent of its state championship rally last December, scoring three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to make a lopsided score close, but it ran out of time and Anniston held on for a 30-28 victory to stay unbeaten.

This Battle of the Bulldogs, the first game between the teams since 1948, was played before a packed house at the Field of Champions, estimated in excess of 2,000. It’s the second year in a row Anniston, 6-0 for the first time since 2001, has beaten a No. 1 team. Last year, it knocked off Handley for a region championship eventually taken away from them by ineligible player forfeits. It is 6-5 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams.

Anniston, the No. 5 team in Class 4A, led 30-7 with 4:28 left in the third quarter and carried that margin into the fourth. But with Hayes on the other side no opponents’ lead is ever safe and White knew it. “The fact we had a big lead and they came back it’s a couple of things,” White said. ‘One, we’ve never been in this position, especially against a top No. 1 team, so we kind of relaxed, but you can’t. “I told them they’re not going to quit. They’re champions, that’s what they do. I told them at halftime we needed 30 more points. You can’t rest on that team, especially with a quarterback like that.”

Piedmont quarterback Jack Hayes (7) talks over strategy with coach Steve Smith on the way to setting another all-time state record Thursday night. (Photo by Shannon Fagan)
Piedmont quarterback Jack Hayes (7) talks over strategy with coach Steve Smith on the way to setting another all-time state record Thursday night. (Photo by Shannon Fagan)

Hayes set the all-time state record for touchdown passes with the first of his three in the fourth quarter. He threw for four touchdowns in the game and extended the all-time record for touchdown responsibility he broke a week ago. Meanwhile, he continues to climb the lists for career completions, passing yardage and total offense.

He threw two touchdown passes to Ish Bethel and one each to Rollie Pinto and Thomas Propst. His 21-yarder to Bethel opened the scoring and tied the record held by Chris Smelley of American Christian and his 20-yarder to Pinto to open the scoring in the fourth quarter — one play after a defensive holding penalty on fourth down kept the drive alive — broke it. Hayes now has 137 career touchdown passes. [*** read more]

 

Piedmont’s Rollie Pinto (45) snags the pass that allowed quarterback Jack Hayes to set the state’s all-time record for touchdown passes. (Photo by Greg Warren)
Piedmont’s Rollie Pinto (45) snags the pass that allowed quarterback Jack Hayes to set the state’s all-time record for touchdown passes. (Photo by Greg Warren)

Anniston’s Jaden Dobbins hauls in an interception that appeared to seal the Bulldogs’ victory over Piedmont. Dobbins had two picks and forced a fumble in the game. (Photo by Greg Warren)
Anniston’s Jaden Dobbins hauls in an interception that appeared to seal the Bulldogs’ victory over Piedmont. Dobbins had two picks and forced a fumble in the game. (Photo by Greg Warren)

**When you click read more you will be taken to the EA Sports Today website.  Please make sure to come back to read more Calhoun County News. 

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