Bulldogs at .500 mark as they square off against Blue Devils

 

GAINESBORO-The Clay County Bulldogs will travel to longtime rival Jackson County here Friday night with a 3-3 mark following a big loss on the road to the Watertown Tigers. 

 

The host Purple Tigers ran up and down the field for almost 500 total yards last week as they handed the Clay County Bulldogs a 44-0 defeat. 

 

The Tigers got a whopping 249 yards rushing from Dylan Holycross on only 14 carries, and the Watertown all-purpose back scored on four long runs covering 54, 93, 60 and 18 yards. For good measure, he caught a pass for 52 yards. 

 

Quarterback Dalton Phillips helped the Watertown cause with 167 yards passing as the Tigers compiled 489 total yards in the contest.

 

Watertown led only 6-0 at the end of one, but two second-quarter scores made it 18-0 at intermission. Clay County had a couple of chances to score in the first half, but couldn’t punch it in on a first-and-goal from the three, or on a good opening drive that carried them inside the Tiger 10. 

 

The Tigers pulled away with three scores, two by Holycross, in the third quarter, and held the Bulldogs to only 92 total yards as they improved to 5-1.  The Tigers have allowed only one touchdown in a five-game winning streak, outscoring their opponents 199-6. 

 

Up and down season for the young Dawgs

The first six games have been something of a rollercoaster for coach David Maxfield’s young Bulldog team. 

 

Their three wins have come in games they should have won, or really needed to win, to make the playoffs (Monterey), and their three losses have been shutouts against two of the best teams in the 2A playoff classification (Trousdale, Friendship) and one that may be knocking on the door of the top 10 in 2A (Watertown). 

 

The current Coach T website strength of schedule rankings has the Bulldogs playing the fourth-toughest schedule in Class A, which includes the 1A and 2A playoff teams.  Through six games, their opponents have an average winning percentage of 68.6 percent. The rankings change from week to week. (Under the new TSSAA setup, there are 41 teams in the 1A playoff classification, with 39 in 2A.)

 

The success of the running game on offense, as has been the case for several years, has been the difference for the Dawgs. In their three wins, they have rushed for an average of 245 yards per game, with a high of 328 in the crucial win at Monterey. In the three losses against the stronger 2A teams, Clay County has rushed for an average of 79 yards, with many of those coming after the verdict had long since been decided. 

Jackson County started the season impressively, winning 54-7 on the road at Houston County, and then manhandling Community High 53-0 at home. Since then, the Blue Devils have struggled in four straight region games, losing to Trousdale, Friendship and Gordonsville in consecutive weeks, and then falling last Friday night at home to Monterey, 27-7. Injuries have hampered the Blue Devils in the past month.