By Chris Boothe
HEMPHILL – Entering Friday’s contest against the Hemphill Hornets, the scenario was simple. The Crockett Bulldogs had to win, or else their season was over. The Bulldogs scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, including an 11-yard touchdown run by Derrick Sherman with 1:21 remaining to make the score 34-32. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, that would be the final score, as Crockett would fail to convert the two-point conversion.
For the Bulldogs, that failed two-point conversion was the difference in continuing the season, and ending their season.
Crockett looked to be in a position to sniff out a last minute comeback after an 87-yard touchdown pass from Derrick Sherman to AJ Owens would cut the deficit to two and make the score 28-26. Hemphill would put some pressure on the Bulldogs, driving down the field on the legs of Dre Blake and Zach Lucius.
The Hornets would find themselves with a prime scoring opportunity, sitting 1st and Goal from the Crockett 10-yard line. That was about as good as it got for the Hornets on that possession, as the Crockett defense would tighten up, and force a turnover on downs.
Hemphill would get their revenge, with Blake intercepting a Jordan Bedford pass, and returning it 3-yards for a touchdown, giving the Hornets a 34-26 lead. Crockett wasn’t done yet, as they would drive down the field by mixing up the run and pass, ultimately scoring on Sherman’s 11-yard run.
The fireworks filled fourth quarter made up for what was a speedy and efficient three quarters of play. Both teams had four possessions in the firsts half, with Crockett scoring on their first and last possession of the half. In between was a lot of good defense and swiftly moving clocks.
Crockett opened the game with the ball and drove quickly down the field. Joseph Porter got the offense rolling with an eight yard run, and after several other Bulldogs got their hands on the ball, it was Sherman that punched it in from eight yards out to give Crockett an early 6-0 lead.
Hemphill would knot things up six apiece after a 66-yard touchdown run from Blake early in the second quarter.
Crockett would respond in a big way. Facing a 4th and long, the Bulldogs sophomore quarterback, Bedford, dropped back and delivered a 65-yard strike to AJ Owens that slipped behind a trio of Hornet defenders. Sherman would punch in the two-point conversion to give Crockett a 14-6 lead with 1:16 remaining in the half.
This would ultimately be a huge turning point, as the Hornets went to work. Starting at the Crockett 45-yard line, Blake opened the drive with a 15-yard run and ended it with a four-yard touchdown to tie the game at the half.
Hemphill would take that momentum into the second half, as the Hornets would put together a 5-minute drive to open the half. This time it was Lucius getting the nod, breaking into the end zone from 10-yards out to give Hemphill their first lead of the night with the score 20-14.
Crockett would respond with Bedford connecting with Owens for a 23-yard score to tie the game back up at 20. Hemphill stepped up to the challenge, with quarterback Dion Nunnelly going up the middle for a one-yard touchdown to give Hemphill the lead for good with the score 28-20 late in the third quarter.
Offensively for the Bulldogs, it was one of their best nights of the season. The team compiled 307 yards of total offense, 179 of which came through the air. Sherman put up video big numbers through the air and with his legs again, going 2-2 passing for 73 yards with a touchdown, while carrying the ball 11 times for 63 yards and a touchdown.
Bedford completed six of 12 passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns with just one interception. AJ Owens added 24 yards rushing with Porter tacking on 16 yards on the ground.
The loss ends the Bulldogs season, who will see several key Bulldogs graduate including Sherman, LT Tryon, and Marcus Shedd. Each player has played a huge role for the Bulldogs over the course of their careers and has helped continue the Bulldog legacy on the gridiron. As for next season, the Bulldogs return the bulk of their roster including Bedford, Owens, Allen Horace, and Malik Johnson.