'Dogs give good effort in defeat


 

  ALCOA--Had Hampton's effort been an earthquake, a few windows would have surely shattered in the town of Alcoa on Friday night.
  With the Bulldogs hustling from start to finish, the makings of an epic rout turned into something less as coach J.C. Campbell's team dropped a 44-13 decision to top-ranked Alcoa in the first round of the Class 2A state football playoffs.
  "I'm proud of these boys," Campbell said of his 'Dogs. "I'm proud as punch. (Alcoa's) coach just got through telling me that we played a lot harder than the last two opponents they played. You can't do more than your ability will allow you. We made some mistakes on tackling and we made some mistakes on pass coverage, but they made some great plays. They have the ability to make them, and we don't have the ability to make them.
  "These kids played hard, and they did what I asked of them. I don't know what else to say."
  Upping their record to 10-1, the Tornadoes are set to host Sweetwater in the next round of the postseason, while Hampton closes with a 4-7 mark.
  "I think our team played excellent tonight," said Hampton fullback-linebacker Jonathan Potter, who starred on both sides of the ball.
  Even though Hampton trailed 28-0 after the first two quarters of play, other teams this season have faced larger halftime deficits when taking on Alcoa.
  "I'd say in probably the last eight games, we've went up by a 35, 42-point average at halftime," said Tornadoes coach John Reid, "so we knew at some point and time things wouldn't be clicking like they always have been. I think the Hampton team came down here and was very scrappy, and hustled around on defense."
  Given a short field to work with after Hampton lost a fumble on the third play of the contest, Alcoa went 35 yards in six plays, scoring on a 7-yard pass from Joei Fiegler to Brandon Warren. From there, Reed Guzzo kicked the first of his four extra points.
  Dustin Lindsey punched in a 2-yard touchdown run for the Tornadoes with 4:30 to go in the first quarter (the PAT was missed), then his 32-yard scoring jaunt, followed by a Fiegler to Warren 2-point conversion pass, had Alcoa up 21-0 midway through the second stanza.
  Lindsey, a big, strong tailback, put on quite a show, rushing 25 times for 263 yards.
  "He's just a junior, as most of our kids are," Reid said. "We've only got two seniors, so that's a struggle at times, but he's a great runner."
  Hampton nearly kept the Tornadoes from adding to their three-TD advantage before the end of the half, as Gene Sanchez grabbed a goal-line interception inside the 2-minute mark. The 'Dogs, however, gave the ball back on a fumble with 22 seconds remaining, setting up Logan Love's 18-yard scoring reception off a Fiegler throw.
  Doing the rest of its scoring in the third quarter, Alcoa opened the second half with a 9-play, 74-yard march that resulted in Fiegler's third TD pass and Warren's second TD catch of the game, occurring on a 3-yard play.
  After Randall Cobb came off the bench to fire a 19-yard Alcoa scoring toss to Kyrus Lanxter, a bad punt snap resulted in a Tornado safety.
  Fiegler was 9-of-13 for 144 yards and Cobb 4-of-8 for 64 yards in a 208-yard Alcoa passing attack, and Warren ended up with five receptions for 63 yards.
  The Tornadoes produced 324 yards on the ground, bringing their offensive total to 530 yards.
  "You'll see us throw it and run it," Reid said. "I think that's what makes us tough to play against."
  The 'Dogs put their first points on the board at the 8:22 mark of the fourth quarter, courtesy of a 3-yard run by Potter. When Cody Walsh knocked through the PAT, Hampton had matched the combined point total (seven) scored on Alcoa its previous four games.
  Potter, however, wasn't finished. He yanked down an interception on the next play from scrimmage, and that led to a 10-yard TD run by the bruising junior.
  Posting his first career 100-yard rushing game, Potter carried the ball 21 times for 109 yards.
  "I can't say enough about Jon Potter," Campbell said. "I told Jon last week, 'If you play, we play. If you don't play, we don't play.' And Jon took it upon himself to be an example. Jon played super. If we have 11 play like Jon, we could be pretty tough."
  Potter wanted to do well against a No. 1-rated team.
  "I was motivated," he said. "I got the team up, and we started playing well. That's what got us the points at the end."
  Martin Winters topped the 'Dogs in tackles with 11, giving him 105 for the season. Brandon Barnett and Adam Townsend contributed nine hits apiece, with Sanchez, Cody Farmer and Chris Morgan each adding eight.
  Campbell is hoping that Hampton's effort versus the Tornadoes will set the tone for 2005.
  "This playing hard, this getting after it should carry over to these guys coming back next year," Campbell said. "And the seniors leave a legacy of playing hard."
  With the 'Dogs dropping to Class 1A next season, Potter offered up an early prediction for Hampton's '05 team.
  "I think we'll be good next year," he said. "We should go undefeated. Dropping down to Class A is going to be a big help."