Starting the season with two losses gave the Cedartown football team a quick assessment of what it needed to do to turn things around.
Two dominant wins later and the Bulldogs are beginning to show just how well they can do.
CJ Washington scored three touchdowns — two on runs over 20 yards — and Cedartown took advantage of a string of miscues by Heard County on Friday night to win 48-14 in front of a home crowd at Doc Ayers Field.
The previously unbeaten Braves were held to the fewest points of the season by the “Junkyard Dawg” defense while the Bulldogs rolled up 320 yards of offense in the non-region contest.
Cedartown head coach Jamie Abrams stated that he was very impressed with the offense’s ability to gel in the past two games.
“The offense, they’ve done a good job the last couple weeks. We’re playing with a lot of young guys on offense, a lot of sophomores, so offense can sometimes take a little time to catch up to the defense,” the first-year head coach said. “The defense can lock in but offense is all about execution and being on the same page, so we’ve had to work through some of that.”
A furious first quarter for Cedartown (2-2) included a 10-yard touchdown run by sophomore Harlem Diamond, a 24-yard sweep into the end zone by Georgia commit Washington and a pair of turnovers that resulted in scores.
Heard County (4-1) punted deep in its territory and Cedartown’s Zane Barrow decided it was time to make an impact on special teams. The senior shot through the middle, leapt into the air, blocked the punt, and recovered it in the end zone for six points. His efforts, paired with a converted extra point by Gio Jacobo, made it 21-0 with 1:50 left in the first.
The Braves ran it down Cedartown’s throat enroute to midfield on the next drive, but a fourth-down fumble stopped their momentum in its tracks. Instead, Reece Tanner recovered the ball and returned it 47 yards to the house for a scoop-and-score.
Heard County again had success moving the ball against Cedartown in the second quarter, but a strip-sack by Washington was recovered by teammate Dashaun Ware and stood as another takeaway for the Bulldog defense.
Cedartown had a good mix of rushing plays and pass plays on the next drive, which came to fruition on a 9-yard scamper by Washington. Heard County would add their first score of the game just before halftime, sending both teams to the locker rooms in a 35-7 ballgame.
Washington wrapped up his night on the first play of the fourth quarter as the junior scored on a 30-yard touchdown run. A bad snap allowed for a blocked extra point, but the game was well in hand.
With the 34-point victory, Cedartown (2-2) picked up their second ever win over Heard County (4-1) and their first since 2014.
What was more important than earning their first win over a west Georgia rival in six years was the fact that the Bulldogs improved to 2-2 on the season heading into this week’s bye.
Abrams said his team will work on themselves more than their opponent this week by trying to cut down on penalties and preventing big plays in the defensive secondary as they get ready for Cedartown’s homecoming matchup with Pickens on Oct. 16.
Abrams stated that he will be dealing with a “coach’s nightmare” during preparation for the next game.
“We had fall break, where they’re not in school. We have a bye week, and then we’ve got homecoming. We’ve got to deal with all that stuff,” Abrams said. “We’re just looking for them to be mature with it, to come out to practice and be motivated.”