The reigning Region 7-4A champion Cedartown Bulldogs looked every bit of it Friday night as they shut down the visiting Ridgeland Panthers to roll to a 50-6 win on Homecoming.
Cedartown scored four touchdowns and a safety in the opening quarter to take a 30-0 lead and never looked back, facing a short field each time on offense in the first half and going into halftime up 50-0.
“We came out and executed. I mean, that’s about it. We kind of got it going and made some plays, got some good field position, and then it just kind of snowballed on them,” Cedartown head coach Jamie Abrams said, adding that “there’s always things to clean up.”
The hosts put in their second string and back-up players with about five minutes left in the second quarter as the Bulldogs led 43-0 and the head coaches agreed to a running clock for the remainder of the game.
Junior running back Harlem Diamond touched the ball three times and scored each time, twice on the first play of a drive. Diamond had touchdown runs of 51, 2 and 44 yards for a total of 97 yards.
“He’s a good football player. When the ball’s in his hands he understands how to use blocks and things like. That’s the big thing,” Abrams said.
Ridgeland finished with 79 total yards of offense, with 65 yards rushing and 14 yards passing. Anderson was 5-of-13 with no interceptions. The Panthers converted just one first down in the first half, and their offense never entered Cedartown territory until the third quarter.
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, rushed for 301 yards and had 344 yards total.
Cedartown (6-1, 3-0 7-4A) has held opponents to a touchdown or less in five games this season, the same number of games the Bulldogs have scored more than 30 points.
“The guys up front, the offensive linemen, have worked to get better every week,” Abrams said. “They’re taking pride in the position. They’re a close knit group. And there’s not a lot of glory in that, but they work to get better every week so that helps too.”
Cedartown scored on all but one possession in the first half and added to its total with a safety in the first quarter that came when the Bulldogs’ defense swarmed Ridgeland quarterback Judd Anderson on third-and-16 from the Panthers’ 1-yard line.
Anderson was chased back into the end zone and threw the ball out of bounds, resulting in an intentional grounding call and two points for Cedartown.
Demarieo Sims led off the scoring for the Bulldogs as he caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Reece Tanner less than two minutes into the game. Mario Maldonado kicked his first of four extra points to put Cedartown up 7-0.
A lost fumble by Ridgeland led to an intercepted throw by Tanner on the next two drives. A series of three-and-outs for Ridgeland would follow, with the exception of the safety, and the next five Cedartown drives would consist of no more than two plays, each ending with touchdowns.
Aside from Diamond’s scores, Patrick Gardner had a 4-yard touchdown and Khamarion Davis followed a 27-yard run by Xavier Hargrove with a 33-yard scamper into the end zone less than a minute into the second quarter.
The final Cedartown touchdown came with the second string in the game as Jaquaveon Price ran in from 10 yards out with less than three minutes left in the first half. Eri Velasquez made his second of two extra points to make it 50-0.
Ridgeland (1-7, 0-2) avoided a complete shutout with a last-ditch effort in the fourth quarter as the Panthers were able to move the ball down the field and score on a 20-yard run by freshman Demetri Bates.
A pass by Anderson on the 2-point conversion was rocketed to Jonathan Woodall in the end zone and dropped. The Panthers would not get another possession in the game.
Cedartown took sole possession of first place in Region 7-4A with the victory as Heritage-Catoosa — who was the only other 7-4A team without a region loss — fell to Northwest Whitfield 22-15 on Friday night to drop the Generals to 2-1 in the region and 4-3 overall.
The Bulldogs will be off next week before heading into the last two weeks of the regular season. Cedartown will return to action Oct. 29 on the road at Central-Carroll, which squeaked by Pickens 20-17 on Friday night.