The Pepperell Dragons ran wild over a pandemic-depleted Gordon Central Warriors team on Monday night, securing a 50-14 win in a game that had to be postponed because of COVID-19 cases and related quarantines and still saw the Warriors down at least 12 players.
The pandemic’s impact on Gordon Central was noticeable from the very first drive, with a young and inexperienced team committing a 15-yard penalty on the first snap of the game and then nearly losing the ball on two separate fumbled snaps. Ultimately the Warriors would punt from their own end zone, only for the kick to be block and recovered by Pepperell’s Trey Forcier for the touchdown. The extra point set up an early 7-0 lead for the Dragons.
Two possessions later, Pepperell extended their lead while converting a fourth-and-17 try into a 36-yard touchdown pass when Matthew Waddell hit Jon Shields across the middle for about 12 yards, and then Shields powered his way down the field for a touchdown. A converted extra point made it 14-0.
Gordon Central went three-and-out on their next possession, and then an errant pass on an attempted fake punt on fourth and nine gave Pepperell the ball back on the War-rior 27. One play later, Dragon running back DJ Rogers broke free for a long touchdown run, and the extra point set the score at 21-0.
Gordon Central’s next punt attempt saw a wild snap give Pepperell the ball on the Warrior 10-yard line. Rogers then scored again on a 10-yard run, and the Dragons added two on the conversion for a 29-0 lead as the first quarter ended. Two possessions later, Shields scored again on a 35-yard touchdown, and the extra point made it 36-0.
The Warriors converted their first first down with about 9:30 left in the second quarter, but two runs for no gain and an incomplete pass led to a punt.
Pepperell (3-4, 2-1 Region 7-AA) started the following drive on its own 46, which was the first time the ball had been on the Dragons’ side of the field to that point. Gordon Central’s Sean Gray picked off a Pepperell pass on its second play before running the length of the field for a pick six. The extra point made the score 36-7.
The Warriors then attempt-ed an onside kick, which Pepperell recovered. Two plays later, Rogers broke off a 40-yard touchdown run. The extra point would set the score for the first half at 43-7.
Pepperell swapped in their younger players for the second half of the game, and both teams tacked on a touchdown and extra point each. Additionally, Gordon Central had two separate touchdowns called back due to penalties.
The Dragons scored first in the second half, when Demarcus Ragland broke off a touchdown run.
The Warriors converted a fourth-and-21 attempt, with Gray scoring a 36-yard touchdown. The final score was 50-14.
Pepperell now enters a bye week. The Dragons’ next game is Friday, Nov. 6, as the team faces the Model Blue Devils in a region contest in Shannon.