Hazlehurst gets defensive to upend Franklin County

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 9, 2004

HAZLEHURST &045; The mighty have fallen.

The Franklin County Bulldogs, widely thought to be the favorites in Region 7-3A, were defeated 12-0 by Hazlehurst Friday. The Indians (6-1 overall, 4-0 in district) look to be in the driver’s seat for the district championship.

Franklin County (6-1, 2-1) will still make the playoffs, but its hopes for a district title are dim.

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&uot;(We) are excited,&uot; Hazlehurst head coach Willie Brown said. &uot;But then, it doesn’t take much to get them excited.&uot;

It wasn’t a pretty game by any means. The teams combined for just 304 yards of offense and most of that was in the first half.

But in the dismal weather that left the field spongy and waterlogged, the Indians found a way to score two touchdowns and then hang on to a lead through a turbulent second half.

The Indians took control early when Damien Anderson took a handoff and went 37 yards for the touchdown, giving Hazlehurst a 6-0 lead.

Anderson later left the game with a leg injury.

In the second quarter, the Indian offense again drove down the field, this time utilizing the pass despite the wet and muddy conditions. Quarterback Fred Robinson connected with wide receiver Damony Carroll on a 19-yard score, giving Hazlehurst a 12-0 halftime advantage.

&uot;We’ve thrown the ball more this year (than in past years),&uot; Brown said. &uot;We thought it would be tough with the weather, but we did throw some tonight and it really made the difference.&uot;

Hazlehurst’s 12 points were the most Franklin County has allowed in the first half this season.

From there, fullback Dexter Douglas took over. Again and again, he ran his bowling ball-like physique into the Franklin County defense, eating up yards, but far more importantly seconds as the game wound down.

&uot;We just practice hard every day,&uot; Douglas said. &uot;Tonight we just stuck with our game plan, and it worked.&uot;

The teams combined for just three first downs in the second half as both defenses stepped up and increasingly wet conditions made getting a foothold on the ball or the ground a task of Herculean proportions.

Turnovers plagued Franklin County, as quarterback Jasper O’Quinn threw his first two interceptions of the season. The Bulldogs also lost two of their six fumbles. In contrast, the Indians didn’t have a single turnover.

Their only significant mistake came on a blocked punt in the fourth quarter, but the Indians defense erased that mistake, holding Franklin County on fourth down.

The Bulldogs just couldn’t string together a decent drive. Twice they were stopped on attempted fourth down conversions and twice they turned the ball over in Hazlehurst territory.

&uot;It’s all about defense,&uot; Brown said. &uot;This is a defensive game.&uot;

The Indians weren’t much more successful on offense in the second half. But they kept running the ball, taking time off the clock and moving ever closer to a big win.