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Jr. Bulldogs break leash against East Middle

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
BLUFF CITY – It took about a quarter of football for the Hampton Middle Jr. Bulldogs to gain their footing but once they did the Jr. ‘Dogs came unleashed against the host Sullivan East Middle Jr. Patriots at Sullivan East High School and ran away with a 30-8 victory on Thursday evening.

Hampton put their first score of the night on the scoreboard with 4:57 showing in the first quarter when bruising running back Weston Hicks carried the ball across the goal line from the six-yard line.

Jr. Bulldog quarterback Connor McKinney connected with Logan Lunsford on the two-point conversion and Hampton had the 8-0 advantage.

The pair connected again in the second quarter when McKinney found Lunsford for a 38-yard touchdown toss to extend the lead to 16-0 as McKinney found JJ Cable for the two-point conversion as the Bulldogs were rolling.

Hampton wasn’t finished in the half as Hicks picked up his second score of the contest when he romped 30 yards to the end zone to stake his Jr. Bulldogs to a 22-0 lead after the conversion failed with 2:24 left before the intermission.

That’s the way the half would end as Hampton carried the 22-point edge to the locker room.

Hampton came out of the half and held the Patriots to get the ball back for the first time in the third quarter.

It wouldn’t take long for Hampton to cash in as McKinney used his legs to carry him to a 25-yard scoring run with almost five minutes to play in the quarter.

Cain Barnett took care of the two-point conversion and Hampton stretched their lead to 30-0.

East finally broke the goose egg on their side of the board with just under two minutes left in the game when Peyton Jones carried the ball into the end zone from nine yards out.

The two-point conversion was good to give the game its final score of 30-8.

Hampton head coach Alex Payne said that he was extremely proud of his team after the hard week they have endured.

“We have had three deaths on the team this week and I have never had anything like that in 29 years,” said Payne. “We have two starting offensive linemen and one kid that couldn’t be here tonight who is a very good player and two eighth-grade starting linemen who have lost their grandfathers and they were both here and played.

“It makes you realize how good it is to be a part of a team but on the other hand, it’s been a tough week so I am proud of these kids for pulling together and supporting those guys. I just want those families to know that we are with them.”

Payne went on to comment about how the coaches made some adjustments after a sluggish start to help turn the contest around for the Jr. Bulldogs.

“We had a few problems to start with as far as alignment problems and needed to adjust some things. I am proud of this team for stepping up and our eighth-grade leaders kept their heads and we played more physical as the game went on,” Payne commented.

Hampton plays at South Greene on September 16th.