Hampton stifles Chuckey-Doak, 19-0

By Jamie Combs
SPORTS EDITOR

   Chuckey-Doak tried to unleash its gamebreaking speed, but the Hampton Bulldogs proved to be too much sludge in the Black Knights' offensive crankcase.
   After dodging a couple of first-quarter bullets, Hampton hunkered down defensively and came away with a 19-0 Watauga Conference win in a season-ending battle with the Knights at J.C. Campbell Stadium Thursday night.
   "We just tried to keep them running sideways instead of upfield," said Hampton defensive back Mel Ramey, who turned in a solid 10-tackle performance. "I'm proud of the guys. They hit hard and everyone played well."
   Recording their first shutout victory since 1998 (12-0 over West Greene), the 'Dogs also nailed down their first winning season since 1997 by finishing with a 6-4 record.
   As a result, Hampton (3-1 in Watauga) takes second-place honors in the conference and will host Oliver Springs, Rockwood or Wartburg Central in the opening round of the Class 2-A state playoffs a week from tonight.
   "We probably won all the games we could this year," said Hampton coach J.C. Campbell. "Johnson County was the one game we didn't play as well as we should have, but other than that we've played up to snuff."
   Mitchell Morton spearheaded the offensive duties for Hampton, passing for 118 yards while having a hand in all three of the game's touchdowns, and the Bulldog special teams held Chuckey-Doak's return units to a measly four yards.
   Early on it didn't look good for the 'Dogs as Chuckey-Doak (1-3, 4-6) pushed inside the Hampton 20 two straight drives.
   Hampton stopped the Knights on downs the first drive, then Morton caused Adan Blevins, less than a yard away from touching paydirt, to fumble into the end zone. Eric Swain made the recovery for the 'Dogs.
   "We had good opportunities in the first quarter and didn't make Hampton pay," said Chuckey-Doak coach George Frye, his team set for a playoff visit to Alcoa. "We really dominated the first quarter and let them off the hook. Then they started smelling blood and did what Hampton does best."
   True to Frye's words, Hampton started to take control with aggressive, hard-hitting defense.
   Asked how happy he was with his defensive unit, Campbell said: "Very happy. It looked like they were going to run all over us. You know how that is -- sometimes you can get pushed around a little bit while you get settled in. That fumble took the life out of them a little bit."
   Said Hampton linebacker Jimmy Sarrett, who totaled 10 tackles of his own: "It takes us awhile to get going, but once we get it going we keep it going."
   On offense, the 'Dogs used their non-traditional method of getting the job done, with Morton putting up 15 passes in the first half and 18 (completing eight) for the game.
   Catches of 16 and 28 yards by Michael Peterson led to Hampton's first touchdown -- a 1-yard second-quarter sneak by Morton -- and Cody Walsh's extra-point kick, handing the 'Dogs a 7-0 halftime edge.
   "They had eight or nine people up at the line of scrimmage, so we had no choice but to throw it," Campbell said. "We were able to catch it enough to get by. We had some other real good chances."
   A couple of dropped balls, including one in the end zone at the close of the first half, kept the 'Dogs from being ahead by more points at the break.
   That didn't matter in the second half, though. Salvaging a play that started out as a blown punt attempt, Ramey drew a pass interference penalty to give the 'Dogs a first down on the Chuckey-Doak 40. The very next play Morton and Ramey connected on a fine piece of pass-and-catch, resulting in a 40-yard TD and 13-0 Hampton lead.
   "That put our momentum up and their momentum down a little bit," Ramey said.
   A dazzling 28-yard scoring run by Morton with 4:39 remaining in the contest supplied a little icing on the cake for the 'Dogs.
   "Mitchell did a real good job tonight," Campbell said. "He made a sophomore mistake or two, but overall he did a good job."
   Peterson amassed 99 yards from scrimmage while Jeremy Hall showed his trademark power at fullback, converting four first downs with his eight carries for 42 yards.
   Brent Price was a bright spot for the Black Knights, gaining 104 yards rushing on 24 attempts.
   Surrendering 88 yards in the first quarter, the 'Dogs allowed just 110 the rest of the way.
   Hampton's Adam Pierson played well on the defensive line, chalking up eight tackles and a quarterback sack. Josh Nave had eight tackles of his own, and Swain chipped in an interception.
   "We're doing a lot better (defensively) than what we have in the past," Sarrett said. "This year we've picked it up."