Walsh lifts Bulldogs over C-D
By Jamie Combs
AFTON -- Trying to get a handle on Hampton senior Cody Walsh was like trying to cure a case of acute bronchitis with a cough drop.
Amassing 307 all-purpose yards, four touchdowns and a 2-point conversion, Walsh had the best game of his high school football career as the Bulldogs defeated Chuckey-Doak 40-14 on Friday night at The Black Hole. In the process, Hampton sewed up a Class 2-A state playoff berth.
Following up his first 100-yard rushing output of the season -- 122 yards vs. Cumberland Gap -- Walsh carried the ball 16 times for 217 yards (13.6 per-carry avg.) and a trio of TDs, and he had a 62-yard scoring run negated by a penalty.
"I feel like I ran pretty hard tonight," said the Bulldog tailback, who has totaled 515 all-purpose yards and played a role in six TDs (scoring five, passing for one) over the last two contests. "Like last week, my line and fullback did just an amazing job -- the holes opened up wide. I couldn't ask for anything better out of them. They did a great job."
However, before Walsh had his way with the Black Knights on the ground, he made an impact on special teams. Rambling 90 yards with the opening kickoff, he scored on a return for the first time this season.
"I've been waiting to do that all year," said Walsh, who returned two kicks for TDs last season. "I think that had a lot to do with getting the team motivated and pumped up for the rest of the game."
Armed with the quick lead, Hampton (3-2, 4-5) would find itself on top by a 12-0 score less than three minutes later. After recovering a Chuckey-Doak fumble on the Knights' second play from scrimmage, Lucas Roark, in his first start at quarterback -- regular starter Zack Crabtree was out with an injury -- finished off a 6-play, 32-yard drive with a 2-yard scoring sneak.
Chuckey-Doak (1-4, 3-6) came back with a TD midway through the second quarter as quarterback Nick Havers scored on a sneak of his own -- a 1-yarder -- then Matt Scott hit the extra-point try to make it a 12-7 contest. A Dustin Williams fumble recovery, plus a 36-yard wide receiver pass from Brock Dunbar to Josh Wykle, set up the score.
The 'Dogs, however, retaliated with a 7-play, 88-yard march that ended with Walsh scampering to the end zone from 16 yards away. From there, he ran for his 2-point conversion, and Hampton went to the half with a 20-7 advantage.
After Walsh punched in a 1-yard scoring run in the third quarter, the 'Dogs were up 26-7 and very much in control.
"I think we played pretty well considering we had quite a few people out (with injuries)," said Hampton's Chris Morgan. "Roark stepped up and played real well, and our whole offensive line was blocking well. We pretty much ran the ball wherever we wanted to."
With linemen Seth Clawson, Donny Davis, Matt Largent, Martin Winters and Johnny Price joining tight ends Morgan and Jarred Irick in doing the bulk of the run-blocking work up front, Hampton was so successful on the ground that it attempted just one pass, which Roark completed to wide receiver Gene Sanchez for eight yards, the entire game.
"We communicated and we just blocked well," Price said. "We never quit."
Picking up big blocks and 12 rushes for 74 yards from fullback Jonathan Potter, Hampton's ground attack produced a total of 394 yards.
Seventy-five of those yards came on a Walsh run early in the fourth quarter. Failing to handle a pitchout while moving to his right, he went several yards back to retrieve the ball, then looped all the way to the other side of the field and went the distance.
"I just turned and the ball went right through my hands," he said. "I just turned around and tried to field it the best I could. Gene Sanchez blocked for me all the way down the field, and I followed him all the way in."
That play was the back-breaker for Chuckey-Doak, which moments earlier had a first-and-goal at the 4, but watched the threat end when Potter recovered a fumble. The Knights would turn the ball over two more times inside the Hampton 20, seeing John Scalf fall on a loose pigskin at the 11 and Eric Cole intercept a pass on the 3.
"I thought Chuckey-Doak had a good offense," said Bulldog coach J.C. Campbell. "They had some bad things happen to them. It wasn't as easy for us as that score looked like."
The Knights actually accounted for more first downs than Hampton (16-12), and finished with 315 yards of offense. Havers was the Chuckey-Doak sparkplug, rushing 17 times for 74 yards and going 5-of-10 passing for 70 yards.
Continuing to click offensively after installing a bevy of reserves, Hampton got a 49-yard run from Dustin Jaynes (three carries, 64 yards) before Scalf ran for a 24-yard TD with 4:04 to play. Quarterback Dustin Milhorn then connected with first-teamer Sanchez on a 2-point conversion throw.
Wesley Claridy gave the Knights another TD by returning the ensuing kickoff 86 yards, and Scott nailed the PAT.
"We played pretty well," Campbell said. "I'm pretty well pleased. They helped us. They had some turnovers and we had a freak thing happen -- a fumble sweep go the other way and score."
In addition to his fumble recovery, Roark made 14 tackles and a sack while spearheading the Bulldog defense, which benefitted from solid showings by Winters (10 tackles, 1.5 sacks), Price (eight tackles, one sack) and Morgan (seven tackles).
For Chuckey-Doak, Wykle grabbed three receptions for 79 yards, and Dunbar, who filled in at QB late in the game, was 5-of-6 for 78 yards through the air.
The 'Dogs now move on to their regular-season finale, in which they will host South Greene on Thursday night. The winner earns the Watauga's No. 3 playoff seed, while the loser heads to the postseason as the fourth entry.
"The playoffs aren't even in the picture yet," Price said. "I mean we know we're going, but South Greene is the next obstacle."
Said Morgan: "We'll prepare hard for South Greene and see if we can turn around and get another win next week."
The 'Dogs will be shooting for their third straight victory.