With his ball club trailing Kendrick, 8-6, going into the locker room during its Region 5-AA opener on Friday night, the Bowdon High School football coach felt there was much to be desired from his squad in the final 24 minutes.
Needless to say, the Red Devils responded in major way, totally dominating the second half for the 34-14 victory at Warren P. Sewell Field, improving to 3-0 on the season and 1-0 in region play.
“We weren’t pleased. We was just shooting ourselves in the foot. I told them at halftime that I think we took them too lightly. We didn’t have a good week of practice because of it. But I think we woke up in the second half,” Hochstetler said.
After netting just 66 yards of total offense in the first half, No. 10 Bowdon took the opening drive of the second half 80 yards in 11 plays, capped by one of four touchdowns by junior halfback Jarod McKey, this run from one yard out. Red Devil quarterback Marcus Thurman’s successful two-point conversion run put Bowdon up 14-8 with 7:08 remaining in the third.
The early second-half momentum injected life into Bowdon, as the defense forced a three-and-out and the offense went right back to work. The Bowdon line of scrimmage controlled the final 24 minutes, something Hochstetler thought was lacking early in the evening.
“In the second half, we came out and established the line of scrimmage. We had some impressive offensive drives. I was real pleased with that,” Hochstetler said.
McKey’s 11-yard touchdown run with 1:10 left in the third finished off a nine-play, 77-yard scoring drive to put the Red Devils up 20-8.
The Red Devils methodically put the game away from that point, tacking on a two-yard McKey touchdown run and an 18-yard touchdown run by Darnell Holland in the fourth quarter.
The Cherokees (0-3, 0-1) got a 15-yard touchdown reception by Reno Lee with 22.2 seconds left in the game for the final margin.
Kendrick took its only lead of the game courtesy of a 20-yard touchdown pass from Jonathan Hines to Coppin Dover, which was followed by a two-point pass from Hines to Jamar Comar with 10:57 left in the second quarter — a score that remained until the half in the first-half defensive struggle.
But behind the Red Devils’ second-half surge, Bowdon got off to a solid start in region play heading into next week’s road trip to Chattahoochee County (2-1, 0-1).
“Our goal is to get better each week. We’ve got a tough opponent next week. Then we’ve got Manchester here in two weeks — I know they play very physical football — so it’s going to be tough every week in this region,” Hochstetler said. “Like I told the team, we’ve got to be physical and ready to play every ball game.”