DALTON -- Despite a revamped, dynamic offensive approach, the Sonoraville Phoenix fell victim to the versatility and quickness of the Dalton Catamounts’ skill players in a 41-21 defeat at historic Harmon Field on Friday.
After electing to receive the opening kickoff, Dalton’s offensive personnel were aggressive early and pounced on the Phoenix (2-1) from the opening drive. After a handful of explosive rushes by shifty running back Jahmyr Gibbs that placed the Catamounts (2-1) in a threatening position at the 22-yard line, quarterback JP Tighe utilized ample time in the pocket to find wide receiver Yendry Cruz on a play-action sequence, who streaked open and snagged Tighe’s pass for a receiving score.
Due to the success the Catamounts were experiencing on the ground, the team didn’t have to lean on the arm of Tighe. However, the senior signal-caller did register 112 passing yards on nine completions on the night.
The Catamounts struck again on the following possession, quickly marching down the field by feeding Gibbs once again. Gibbs capped off the drive by receiving a well-disguised pitch play from Tighe that cleared out enough room for him to slice through the defense and into the end zone for a 14-0 advantage.
Sonoraville had a tough time tackling Gibbs for the duration of the game, who coasted for 144 yards and three rushing touchdowns on 12 carries.
Dalton kept its foot on the gas in the second quarter, deploying the second running back in its two-headed rushing committee, Tyis Love. He took his own shovel pass from Tighe and carved through the inside of the defensive front for a seven-yard rushing touchdown and a 21-0 lead.
The Phoenix offense opted to open things up and operate a more spread-passing attack to create space against the physical Catamount defense. Quarterback Patrick Moore was sharp throughout the evening, completing 19-of-27 passing attempts for 211 yards and a touchdown.
The aerial approach provided Sonoraville running back Tristan Key with more room to run. After wide receiver Trenton Daniel snagged a pass on the one-yard line, Key promptly muscled the ball across the goal line for a one-yard score and a 21-7 total. Key rumbled for 68 rushing yards on 14 chances. He also pitched in 34 receiving yards.
Although Sonoraville cobbled together that impressive 80-yard scoring drive, the Catamounts answered right back with a lengthy drive of its own after two huge penalties called against the Phoenix put Dalton back into scoring range. Love once again responded when called upon, powering in the three-yard touchdown to grab a 27-7 lead heading into the half. He contributed a rushing total of 86 yards.
The Phoenix offense emerged from the locker room firing on all cylinders, temporarily seizing the momentum when Moore rolled out and tossed it to wide receiver Casey Brooks for 23-yard touchdown.
In addition to the score, Brooks enjoyed a solid game as the primary receiver, collecting 138 yards on six receptions. Daniel was also a significant factor as a pass catcher, posting 88 receiving yards.
Any momentum that Sonoraville built was quickly snatched back by Dalton when Gibbs accelerated on a rush during the next possession for a quick 44-yard touchdown. He added on a 42-yard rushing touchdown to open the fourth quarter and officially put the game away.
Moore tacked on a nine-yard rushing score for the Phoenix in the final quarter, but the 41-21 deficit was too large to overcome.
Sonoraville is back in action next Friday at LFO.