Bulldogs edged in power-shortened contest
In a game that featured a number of big plays on both sides of the ball, it was a power outage and a plodding, clock-eating drive that helped determine the outcome of Fort Chiswell’s bizarre 21-17 victory over the Thomasville Bulldogs.
The Pioneers led by four with 1:05 remaining in Friday’s game when the lights went out at Cushwa Stadium.
A pitch black darkness fell over players, coaches and spectators that prevented the visitors from Virginia to kneel on the football and end the game in conventional style. Power could not be restored in a timely manner, so the game was called with a minute to go.
Fort Chiswell received the second-half kickoff leading 21-17 and spent the next six minutes of the third quarter marching methodically down the field.
Kailon Bratton concluded the drive by picking off a pass from Fort Chiswell quarterback Brett Mabry in the end zone to prevent what seemed like an imminent score. Had the Pioneers been able to capitalize, the visitors would have taken their first two-score advantage of the game.
As it stood, however, the damage had already been done. The result of this sustained drive was a shift in field position Thomasville could not overcome.
Thomasville’s offense got off to a quick start Friday. Its first highlight came when DJ Spann took a first-quarter handoff, cut back across the field and ripped off a 37-yard to set up 1st-and-10 at the Pioneer 15. That led to a 27-yard field goal by Brett Hokenson for the first points of the game.
The teams then exchanged a pair of deep balls. Mabry scrambled away from the Bulldogs’ pass rush and unleashed a 46-yard toss that found Chase Rathbone, who fell into the end zone to allow his team to take a temporary 7-3 lead.
It did not last for long, because sophomore quarterback Jalen Jenkins heaved a 66-yard TD completion to Ike Marsh a minute later. They were not finished, as the Jenkins to Marsh duo struck for a 14-yard TD completion for a second time in answer to a 2-yard TD run by the Pioneers’ Dallas Ward.
Perhaps Jenkins’ most crucial throw, however, came with less than a minute remaining before halftime. He launched a pass downfield into double coverage that never really had a chance of being completed. Instead, the ball was intercepted and returned 53 yards for a touchdown.
The Pioneers converted the ensuing two-point conversation to go up 21-17 at the half. The scoring commenced and both teams battled to a scoreless tie in the final two quarters.
On the Bulldogs final offensive series, Jenkins had Thomasville at midfield with just less than two minutes to go when he was sacked, forcing a fumble and allowing the Pioneers to take over.
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.