Hampton rolls past West Greene, 40-12

By Jamie Combs
SPORTS EDITOR

   For the Hampton Bulldogs, it seemed as though the football touched more hands than a church collection plate on Sunday morning.
   With more than a dozen Hampton players making a run, catch, throw or an interception, the 'Dogs punctuated their homecoming festivities by rolling past West Greene 40-12 in a Watauga Conference contest on Friday night at J.C. Campbell Stadium.
   "That kind of surprised me with it being homecoming today," Hampton coach J.C. Campbell said of his team's performance. "I figured they'd kind of have their minds on other things. We talked about it a little bit before the game, and maybe it snapped them back to thinking."
   With the team's first playoff berth since 1998 there for the taking, the 'Dogs (2-1, 5-3) proved themselves more than ready. Hampton secured its postseason invitation in fine statistical fashion, outgaining the Buffaloes (0-4, 2-6) 438-162 while reeling in three interceptions.
   "We got a little distracted today during homecoming," said Hampton's Josh Nave, who had three catches for 52 yards and picked off a pass. "But we came out with our heads on straight with the first kickoff of the game and played ball."
   Michael Peterson ran for three touchdowns the second week in a row for Hampton, which got two TD runs from fullback Jeremy Hall and 8-of-10 passing for 170 yards.
   A Mel Ramey interception on West Greene's first offensive play set up Hampton's first score, a 3-yard plunge by Hall, then Peterson added a 15-yard TD run on the 'Dogs' next possession. Mitchell Morton hit Corey McKinney for a 2-point conversion and 14-0 game.
   West Greene fought back, though, with an impressive 14-play, 69-yard march to the end zone. Following up a nifty 18-yard reception by Josh Jones, Eric Large crashed across the goal line from two yards out to trim the Bulldog advantage to 14-6.
   The Buff outlook continued to brighten after Hampton bobbled the ensuing kickoff and had to start at its own 11. However, that didn't stop the 'Dogs from traveling 89 yards in four plays, the last being a Peterson 16-yard scamper to paydirt.
   "Hampton got a little happy on us," said West Greene coach Barry Carter. "I thought we just didn't play well defensively at all. We had a chance to hold them back there deep and they break it out of there on us and change the whole outlook of what happened. It was just downhill from there."
   Late in the first half, Morton keyed a solid Hampton drive, firing completions to McKinney, Nave and Peterson before Peterson stepped his way to a 5-yard scoring run. Cody Walsh nailed the extra point, and the 'Dogs went to the break with a 27-6 advantage.
   Morton had the most productive effort of his young career, going 7-of-9 in the passing department for 130 yards.
   "We threw it a little just a seeing what we can do," Campbell said. "Old Mitchell stayed in (the pocket) tonight. He didn't take off."
   Said Nave of the Bulldogs' aerial attack: "We just came out and did it. It wasn't really planned. We usually run the ball on them pretty well."
   Propelled by a 71-yard Josh Dearinger-to-Michael Franklin connection, the Buffaloes showed no signs of quitting at the beginning of the second half. Two plays later Cortney Cotner bulled in for a 4-yard scoring run as West Greene, cutting the lead to 27-12, still harbored a few rays of hope.
   Those rays vanished, however, when a Dustin Crumley interception led to another 3-yard TD run by Hall, then Nave's pickoff gave the 'Dogs a chance to add one more score. Hampton didn't waste the opportunity as Zack Crabtree set up his own 1-yard TD run with a 40-yard pass to Eric Swain.
   "We played pretty well most of the time," Campbell said. "We had some streaks where we could have done better, but they've got a team, too -- and they're trying also."
   Peterson totaled 143 yards from scrimmage (73 rushing, 70 receiving) and Hall gained 66 yards on 12 carries for the 'Dogs, who received solid work from offensive linemen Harry Page, Pat Murphey, Robby England, Adam Potter, Brad Hodge and Eddie Lance.
   Defensively, Hampton held the Buffaloes to an average of two yards per carry (29 rushes, 58 yards) and dropped the quarterback six times.
   According to senior Jason Humphrey, who recorded eight tackles and a QB sack, the 'Dogs have made significant strides this season.
   "We've improved tremendously, especially on offense," Humphrey said. "We didn't do well against Cloudland or Johnson County -- we played like crap that Johnson County game -- but other than that we've done OK, and we've stepped it up on defense. We've proven a lot."
   Jimmy Sarrett was tops for the 'Dogs on defense, chalking up a total of nine tackles and 1.5 sacks.
   For West Greene, a team that could be worth keeping an eye on next season, Large carried 11 times for 45 yards.
   "This is a learning experience for us," Carter said. "We're going to have a bunch of kids coming back next year. We're playing good at times. We're just having trouble putting a whole game together, and we'll eventually learn to do that.
   "I don't think we played like we're capable of playing tonight, but give credit to Hampton. Hampton's got a good ball club."