Bulldogs pound Blue Devils in season opener
Story from The Daily Mountain Eagle
by Jonathan Bentley
CORDOVA — Kijuana Babbs' first season opener as the featured running back in Dora’s offense went even better than coach Johnny Wright could have planned.
The junior running back scored three touchdowns and rushed for 142 yards as the Bulldogs knocked off rival Cordova 35-12 at Hudson-Kirby Stadium Thursday night.
The game, which was slowed by penalties, cramps and more penalties, got sloppy at times. The teams had a total of 33 penalties for 285 yards and combined for eight turnovers — four by each team.
“I didn’t expect us to be as sharp as I would like,” said Wright, who moved to 9-0 against Cordova. “I think we both made mistakes that we would normally make in a jamboree game.”
Dora led 14-6 at the half and broke the game open in the second half with three touchdowns.
All of Babbs’ scores came via the big play. He broke free for a 30-yard score in the second quarter and added 22-yard and 36-yard touchdown runs in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach. Lineman of the year finalist A.J. Smoot led the Bulldogs’ defensive effort, recording 10 tackles, including three sacks, while forcing a fumble.
“I’m proud of some of our guys. Babbs and Charles Clay had good games,” Wright said. “A.J. can play. He’s got a motor. We brought him from the back side and it worked well. He had a few sacks behind the line and caused a fumble. It was typical (A.J.).”
Dora opened the scoring on its second drive with Steven Gosha hitting Sadarius Key for a 40-yard touchdown strike. Jack Spradlin made the first of his five PATs for a 7-0 lead with 1:38 left in the quarter. The Bulldogs second score came in the second quarter when Babbs went 30 yards for a touchdown as Dora pushed its lead to 14-0 with 10:40 left in the half.
Cordova got on the scoreboard less than three minutes later when Chase Trotter connected with Jaylan Clay for a 47-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion failed making the score 14-6.
Neither offense was able to get into a flow in the first half due to penalty flags. There were 15 flags thrown in the second-quarter alone and 21 in the opening half.
The Blue Devils had their chances in the first half with three drives starting inside the Dora 35-yard line. One drive ended on downs, two others ended with turnovers.
Dora pushed its lead to 21-6 in the third quarter when Charles Clay scored on a four-yard touchdown run with 3:58 left in the quarter. A Smoot sack led to a Cordova turnover on downs early in the fourth quarter. Dora scored three plays later on Babbs’ 22-yard run for a 28-6 advantage.
A Clay interception set up Dora’s last score — Babbs’ 36-yard run with six minutes left in the game.
Cordova scored the final touchdown when Jacob Key went 80 yards for a touchdown with 5:32 left.
Dora drove the ball inside the Cordova five-yard line on its final possession and ran out the last minute-plus by kneeling on the ball.
Trotter led the Cordova offense, completing 14-of-26 passes for 215 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Noah Ard led the Devils in receiving with seven catches for 81 yards.
For Dora, Gosha was 4-of-6 for 96 yards and a touchdown.
Key had two catches for 68 yards and a score while Alex Russell hauled in a 47-yard strike down the sideline.
Defensively, Taylor Trotter recovered a pair of fumbles, both on kick returns, for Cordova. Chris Evans had a fumble recovery for Cordova and Kenderra Taylor picked off a pass.
Charles Clay had a pair of interceptions for the Bulldogs and Nathaniel Robinson recovered a fumble for Dora.
“A lot of our guys grew up tonight,” Wright said. “Lets hope they did. If they didn’t, it’s going to be a long season.”
Dora hosts Mortimer Jordan next week while Cordova plays at Good Hope in a non-region game.