After a sluggish start in last week’s game against Dade County, Pepperell head football coach Rick Hurst wanted to make sure it didn’t happen again.
The coach got what he wanted Friday when the Dragons swiftly handled Region 7-AA opponent Armuchee 63-0 at Dragon Stadium in Lindale, opening with a 21-point first quarter and leading 49-0 at halftime.
“We did what we should’ve done last week,” Hurst said. “We came out flat last week. This was big for us because I wanted them to come out and play to our level and not play down to somebody else’s level.”
The Dragons showcased much of its arsenal against the Indians with six different players making their way into the end zone and rolling up 339 yards of offense. Hurst said having so many players that can score from anywhere on the field is a great thing to have but added his team needs to be consistent.
“We’ve got to do it in bigger games — in games that really, really matter,” Hurst said. “We’ve got to be able to spread the ball around. We’re able to run the ball, throw the ball. We’ve got weapons that we can play outside, inside, in the backfield. That makes us tough to defend.”
Pepperell’s Gage Moses was 3-of-7 for 62 yards passing and two touchdowns in the first half with an interception. Shannen White took over quarterback duties in the second half and scored two touchdowns on runs of 46 and 11 yards.
D.J. Rogers led the ground game with seven carries for 88 yards and two touchdowns, and Tra Robinson had a 55-yard touchdown reception.
Josh Ross had three carries for 19 yards and a touchdown, and had two interceptions on defense, and Ryan Hurst had an interception, kicked all extra points in the first half, and had two receptions for 7 yards with a touchdown.
The Dragons’ scoring wasn’t limited to the offense, with two touchdowns coming from the defense. Preston Goggans scored the Dragons’ first touchdown of the night when he fell on the ball in the end zone after Payton Rhoades blocked a punt by Armuchee quarterback Chandler Desanto.
In the second quarter, Robinson intercepted Desanto around the Armuchee 30-yard line and ran it back for a score to put the Dragons up 35-0.
With the win, the Dragons (7-2, 5-1 7-AA) close out another season undefeated against Floyd County teams. Hurst hasn’t lost to a Floyd opponent since taking over the program in 2015.
“Our seniors really wanted to close this thing out,” Hurst said. “In four years, you’re 12-0. Nobody can ever take that away from you.”
Pepperell will finish regular-season play on the road at Chattooga next Friday, and with the standings in Region 7-AA so tight, Hurst is hopeful to be back at Dragon Stadium in the playoffs.
“We’re excited with our goals to get in and host a playoff game, and as long as we go up there and take care of business, we’ve got that opportunity again,” Hurst said.
Armuchee head coach Jeremy Green has praised his team for most of the season for not backing down against opponents, but against Pepperell the coach said he saw his team hold back.
“We’ve gotten beat and we’ve gotten outmanned, and Pepperell’s good, there’s no doubt about it, but this is the first time that I was genuinely disappointed,” Green said. “This was the first time that we didn’t throw everything we had at somebody. We’ve got five days left as a football team, and we can’t let the season end the way we feel right now.”
The Indians (0-9, 0-6) struggled to get any momentum going offensively, accumulating only 61 yards of offense on the night. Desanto finished 4-of-12 for 35 yards passing and four interceptions.
Gauge Burkett pounded away at Pepperell for the Indians with 22 carries, but was held to only 30 yards on the ground.
“He’s a good, tough kid,” Green said. “I think he’s a player in Northwest Georgia that could play for anybody. Not a lot of people know about him, but he’s a great kid.”
Armuchee hosts Dade County next Friday to close out the season.