Determined Bulldogs Rally To Win Second Round Thriller



With their backs up to the wall, Hampton didn’t flinch.

Dylan Trivett scored on a one-yard run with 27 seconds left and then nabbed an interception with six seconds left as the Bulldogs captured a thrilling 36-31 victory over Bledsoe County in the TSSAA Class 2A Playoffs at J.C. Campbell Stadium Friday night.

“They are so resilient, and they have been that way all year,” Hampton Head Coach Michael Lunsford said of his team. “Just overcame adversity all year. The first game of the year we got beat by Pigeon Forge, but we never wavered.”

“I remember being at Pisgah, and we were getting our butts beat, and I grabbed Dylan and said ‘Dylan as long as you will fight with me – we will be here fighting together.’ That is just the way they have been all year long and I am so proud of them. ”

Hampton will host York Institute for quarterfinal action next week. York defeated Oneida 34-7.

It was a quick first quarter.

The Bulldogs held the Warriors to a three-and-out to open the game, and the Hampton offense went to work holding the ball for over nine minutes.

On the last play of the quarter, Dom Burleson scored from a yard out and then added the two-point conversion to give Hampton an 8-0 lead heading to the second quarter.

Bledsoe County answered quickly as Samuel Agee scored on a four-yard run to cap a six-play drive.

After the Warriors forced Hampton to punt, the next play from scrimmage saw Johnathan Thomas find Justin Melton for a 62-yard touchdown, and Bledsoe County added a two-point conversion to take a 14-7 lead.

Hampton used a seven-play drive to answer the call as Trivett scored from 20 yards out to tie things up at 14-14.

Mauricio Rojas added a 26-yard field goal in the closing seconds to send Bledsoe County to the locker room with a 17-14 lead.

In the third quarter, Dallas Bridges broke free for a 44-yard touchdown as the Warriors pushed the lead to 24-14.

Hampton opened the final quarter deep in Warrior territory and scored two plays into the fourth as Geno Carrico caught a Trivett pass for a 24-yard touchdown on fourth and seven.

The Bulldogs reached into their bag of tricks on the ensuing kick as Elijah McKinney jumped on an onside kick.

That set up a 29-yard touchdown as JJ McElyea caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Trivett to push Hampton to a 28-24 lead with 9:51 left to play.

The Warriors moved down the field on their next drive, but big defensive plays from Shayden Oliver and Thunder Fletcher helped the Bulldog defense dig in and force Bledsoe County off the field on fourth down.

The Hampton offense was unable to get anything going, and Bledsoe County took advantage and regained a 31-28 lead with 1:25 left to play on a score by Samuel Agee.

Hampton, however, went back to work.

Burleson opened the drive with a strong run, and Bryson Markland caught a Trivett pass to move to midfield. After Trivett escaped for a 17-yard run, the senior quarterback hit Carrico for a 28-yard play to set up Hampton inside the Warrior 6.

Two plays later, Trivett scored on a short run and added the two-point conversion to regain the lead for the Bulldogs.

The senior Trivett put the icing on the cake with an interception to secure the win.

Trivett finished the game 10-of-16 passing for 123 yards and added 91 rushing yards on 14 carries.

“That was the gutsiest performance I’ve ever had a quarterback play,” Lunsford said. “Best overall football game I have ever seen a kid play.”

Burleson had 92 rushing yards.

Carrico ended the night with 70 yards on four catches, while McKinney and McElyea had 34 and 29 receiving yards, respectively.

“When their backs are against the wall, they come out fighting and clawing,” Lunsford said. “I couldn’t be prouder.”

Thomas led Bledsoe County as he went 8-of-13 passing for 187 yards, while Austin Rains had 87 yards on 13 carries.

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