After allowing a touchdown in consecutve weeks to start the season, the Harlem High School Bulldogs’ defense turned the pressure up a notch Friday night.
The Bulldogs defense made life miserable for the Glascock County Panthers, coming away with a fumble recovery and three interceptions as they went on to the 28-0 homecoming win.
The win ran the Bulldogs record to 3-0 as they continued their best start since 1981.
“I’m just proud of them, they’ve worked their butts off and we never dreamed we would be 3-0, but that’s just credit to the football team,” said head coach Jimmie Lewis, who also highly praised his coaching staff.
While controlling play but coming away with just one first-half score, the Bullodgs pounded the Panthers for three second-half touchdowns. They didn’t throw a pass in the second half and rushed for 292 of their total 297 yards. Quarterback Hunter Rippe put the ball in the air twice in the first half, completing one for five yards.
Taking what the Panthers (1-3) were giving them, the Bulldogs had success running the ball up the middle in the first half. On the Bulldogs second possession of the game, fullback Jordan Dorsey finished a seven-play, 52-yard drive by bursting up the gut for a 16-yard touchdown as the Bulldogs took a 7-0 lead.
Dorsey ran for 97 of his 115 yards in the first half and Austin Burt got 94 of his game-high 127 yards in the second half while scoring twice. The Panthers stopped the Bulldogs on fourth downs twice on their own 20 to keep the game close at the break.
Dorsey hurt his foot late in the first half and Burt carried the load in the second half as the Bulldogs used drives of 10 and nine plays, using up 5:24 and 4:35 on the clock, respectively.
One of the biggest halftime adjustments was to get Burt to cut inside to the hole instead of bouncing outside.
“I told him you weigh 206,” Lewis said. “I told him to run it north and south and if there ain’t no hole run over somebody, and he did start doing that and he was getting big yardage. It got to the point where no one wanted to get in front of him.”
The Bulldogs one short drive came following an Owen Price interception at the Panthers’ 17 late in the third quarter.
It took Burt just three plays to punch it in.
Relieving Burt late in the game was Bailey Postell, who followed up a 24-yard run with a two-yard touchdown for the Bulldogs’ final points.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs defense made life difficult for the Panthers throughout as they could muster just 10 first downs and 125 yards of total offense.
Defensive end Tyler Sheppard made life tough on Panthers’ quarterback Tre Little, sacking him twice, and the defensive pressure helped lead to interceptions by Carson Gurley, Price and Jonathan Worrell.
Saying they fight to the final whistle, the senior Sheppard called what’s happened defensively in 2013, a team effort.
“We go after it and make plays,” Sheppard said. “We build each other up, we just get each other pumped up and then everybody explodes and makes plays. That’s just where we’re getting this explosion on defense from.”
Like Harlem, Augusta Prep ran its record to 3-0, going on the road to defeat Thomas Jefferson, 45-20.
With a massive fourth-quarter comeback, the Evans Knights improved to 2-0 with a 34-31 win over Elbert County.
Greenbrier fell to 0-3 with a 49-0 shutout at the hands of Jefferson County; Augusta Christian dropped to 1-2, losing 22-14 to Cardinal Newman and the Grovetown Warriors went to 1-2 for the year after a 56-13 road loss to North Augusta.