By Ed Greif
Jeremiah Baird scored on a 10-yard run to give the Homestead Bulldogs a 20-14 victory over the South Cumberland Rebels for the 2013 elementary football championship played Tuesday evening at Stone Memorial High School.
Homestead scored one TD in the third quarter and another in the fourth quarter to rally from a 14-0 third quarter deficit, after the two teams played to a scoreless tie after the first half.
The two teams moved the pigskin up and down the field during the first quarter, with no points going up on the scoreboard. The South defense held the Bulldog offense to 28 yards on eight carries, while the 'Dawg defense held the Rebel offense to 41 total yards (44 rushing on nine carries and one for two passes for minus three yards).
The 'Dawgs' second possession of the game carried over until the second quarter and was hurt by two penalties, killing the drive on downs at the South 29-yard line; however, Homestead forced a Rebel punt, giving the Bulldogs possession at their 43-yard line.
Two more Bulldog penalties hurt the drive, but a Baird pass was picked off by South's Josh Dykes; however, the Bulldog defense held the Rebels to force a 34-yard field goal by Mason Hall, but holder Hayden Woody was stopped for a 15-yard loss on the fake attempt by Thomas Arnold and Hunter Withers.
Homestead took over at their 32 and took to the air, as Baird and Brett Newcome took to the air to complete one for six for 40 yards to Zach Denton.
Homestead finished the second quarter with 49 total yards (three yards rushing and 46 yards passing), while South had one total yard (one yard rushing and zero passing).
South's first possession of the second half was set up by a short kickoff return by Dykes to the Rebel 27, where Woody and Jacob Kerley were the workhorses, carrying the ball six times for 20 yards; however, Withers picked off Woody to end the drive.
Homestead's possession was short-lived as Newcome fumbled with Woody recovering for the Rebels at the Bulldog 43-yard line. Six plays later, Kerley exploded up the middle for a 10-yard TD scamper to give South the 6-0 lead with 4:17 left in the third quarter. Hall added the PAT for the 7-0 advantage.
Arnold returned the ensuing kick to the Bulldog 34-yard line, but two-plays later, the Bulldogs recovered with Woody recovering for the Rebels.
Woody then raced 34 yards to give the Rebels a 13-0 lead with 3:24 left in the third quarter. Hall's PAT made it 14-0.
A 26-yard kick return by Arnold gave the Bulldogs possession at their 38-yard line.
Baird hit Arnold with a 26-yard strike and Newcome with a 16-yarder to move the ball toward the red zone. Baird finished off the drive with a 20-yard run for the TD with 2:42 left in the third quarter. Eddie Ford scored the PAT, but a penalty nullifed. The second two-point conversion failed, keeping the score at 14-6.
Neither team scored in the final 2:42 of the frame.
South's first possession of the final quarter started at the Bulldog 23, but three plays later, Woody fumbled the snap, picked up the football and raced 10 yards, where he was hit by Thomas VanVoorhees. The ball was recovered by Glen Star at the Homestead six-yard line.
The Bulldogs drove the distance in 14 plays to score on a two-yard run by Ford, with Baird tying the game at 14-14 on a two-point conversion with 1:27 left in regulation. A 50-yard run by Baird put the pigskin inside the 10-yard line.
The Rebels took over at their 25 on the ensuing kick; however, a penalty and a quarterback sack by Devin Watkins slowed the drive. Woody then passed 12 yards to Kerley and raced 16 yards to the Bulldog 47 for a Rebel first down.
Denton then picked off Woody and raced up field as time expired in regulation.
South was first to play in the overtime, but was stopped on downs by the 'Dawg defense led by Withers, Star and Watkins.
After a incomplete pass, Baird raced 10 yards on second down for the winning touchdown.
Homestead rushed for 146 yards on 25 carries and completed five of 19 passes for 88 yards. Baird rushed for 114 yards on eight carries with two TDs and completed five of 17 passes for 88 yards.
Leading tacklers for the Bulldog defense were Watkins, Arnold, Newcome, Ford, Withers, Austin Abston, Logan Newberry, VonVorhees, Denton and Baird. They picked off two passes, recovered two fumbles and recorded 12 tackles for minus 55 yards.
South rushed for 204 yards on 42 carries with two touchdowns and completed two of six passes for nine yards with two interceptions. Woody rushed for 169 yards on 27 carries with one touchdown, while Kerley collected 33 yards on 18 carries with one touchdown.
Leading tacklers for the Rebels were Hall, Woody, Bailey Walker, Daniel Zglinicki, Justin Reed, Cole Wheeler, Brandon Day, Bryce Sexton, Ryan Sartain, Cameron Grant and Kerley. This group recovered two fumbles, picked off one pass and recorded six tackles for minus 20 yards.
Homestead finished season at 8-0, while South was 6-2, with both losses to the Bulldogs.