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Bulldogs tame Devils

Hampton’s balanced offense and costly turnovers proved too much to overcome for Unicoi County during their non-conference clash with the Bulldogs at J.C. Campbell Stadium on Friday night.
Hampton quarterback Lane Smith went 9-13 through the air for 191 yards and accounted for five touchdowns as the Bulldogs (2-1) handed the Blue Devils a 33-8 loss during the “Battle of the Blues” in Hampton.
“The thing that hurt us the most tonight was our inability to finish drives,” Blue Devil coach Jerad Huskins said. “We stalled out and didn’t make a play when we needed one.”
The Devils (2-2, 0-1) had success driving the ball on their first two possessions, but the drives ended with turnovers.
The opening kickoff saw the Devils take over on their own 25-yard line then march down field using plays by tailback Hunter Abbott and wideout Keith Arrowood. The Devils marched down to Hampton’s eight-yard line in nine plays.
The Bulldogs then held their own with the Devils knocking on the door. Hampton stopped a screen pass from quarterback Cody Jack Rogers to Abbott on fourth down to take over possession.
Hampton’s first possession went the same way as the Devils’, with the Bulldogs driving it into the Blue Devils red zone. A sack by Phillip Franklin on fourth down stopped the drive and the Devils took over on downs.
The Devils were held to a three-out and had to punt the ball, then the Bulldogs were able to take advantage. A touchdown pass from Smith to Tristan Robinson gave Hampton the lead. Following an extra point by Tyler Chambers, the Bulldogs led 7-0 with less than eight minutes to go in the second quarter.
Hampton then seized control of the game and never let go.
“Defensively, we saw a new look for Hampton with their spread offense,” Huskins said. “(Lane) Smith threw the ball extremely well during the night.
“We have no time to cry or whine or point fingers. We have to find a way to get this straightened out.”
Smith rushed from 19 yards out to give Hampton a 14-0 lead going into halftime. The balanced attack by the Bulldogs chalked up 13 points in the third quarter. They scored their last touchdown with time expiring in the fourth.
The Bulldog offense successfully controlled the game clock on each possession, allowing their defense to be fresh each time they took to the field.
“We played great defense tonight,” Hampton head coach Michael Lunsford said. “(Hunter) Abbott is a good back for them and will probably be one of the best backs we’ll see for the season. We did a good job of containing them from scoring until the fourth quarter.”
Abbott was the bright spot offensively for UCHS, leading all rushers with 141 yards on 21 carries. The Blue Devils orchestrated a touchdown drive midway through the fourth quarter when Rogers connected with Thomas Tipton on a five-yard swing pass.
“Unicoi is a good ball club,” said Lunsford said. “They lost their starting quarterback early in the season and it’s always hard to battle through something like that. Our kids made plays and got it done tonight.”
Rogers was 9-18 through the air, finishing with 80 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Tipton led the receivers with three catches for 36 yards; Arrowood caught two passes for 16 yards and rushed for 25 yards on three carries.
Franklin led the effort defensively with six tackles and a sack. Jordan Berry, Hunter Burnett and Justin Nelson each had four tackles to spearhead the defensive effort.
Unicoi County will look to get back into the win column on Friday, Sept. 14, when they will face Three Rivers Conference foe, Happy Valley (1-3, 0-1), in a crucial conference showdown on top of Warrior Hill in Elizabethton. The Warriors enter the contest after dropping their home-opener to Daniel Boone, 42-6.
“We have a lot of football left,” Huskins said. “We have a great group of tough, resilient kids. We have to get back to work and prepare for a tough Happy Valley team.”
The UCHS junior varsity was in action before The Erwin Record’s press deadline, facing Hampton’s junior varsity program at Gentry Stadium on Monday, Sept. 10.