Bulldogs get a second Booster Stadium shot at Benedictine

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Keshawn Morgan runs for a first down against Benedictine in 2016

For the second straight season the Toombs County Bulldogs will play Benedictine, the top team in Region 2 AA in their Pit. Last year the game was moved from Savannah to Lyons due to the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew. This year the game has been moved from Friday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m., on Y-101 Radio and streamed on Mixlr, to avoid conflicting with Friday nights Real Squeal events in downtown Lyons.  Toombs County Football Page

A special memorial service will be held at 7:10 p.m honoring former Toombs County Bulldog and Staff Sgt Dustin Wright, Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio and 25-year-old Sgt. La David Johnson. The four American soldiers lost their life when they were ambushed in Niger.

Please be in Booster Stadium and in your seats by 7 for this special memorial service.

Last year the than 5-1 Bulldogs tied than 6-0 Benedictine at 7-all with a 67-yard drive. Running back Jeidon Sistrunk pounded the ball through the Cadet defense with several determined runs setting up a 10-yard run into the north end zone by Morgan. Combined Morgan and Sistrunk ran for 129 yards against the Benedictine defense. Sistrunk had 65 on 15 carries and Morgan 64 on 12, Jeidon won’t be able to play against the Cadets this year due to an injury.

After the Dawg TD Benedictine scored 35 straight points in a 42-13 win. The Bulldogs second TD was scored when Quarterback Dalton McBride threw a 65-yard pass to Tivean Ashley and the senior caught the ball at the Cadet 43 and broke away scoring 2:25 to play.

This year Benedictine brings a 6-0 record back to the Pit. In 2016 the Cadets won 13 of their 15 games in their state championship season by 20 or more points. This season they have won five-of-six by 20 or more. Only Swainsboro remained close the whole game. The Tigers lost 30-18 at home. Benedictine outscored Vidalia 13-0 in the fourth quarter to win 27-7. Toombs vs. Benedictine history

Senior quarterback Nick Iannone (#15) leads the Cadet offense with his accurate right arm. He is completing 62% of his passes for 951 yards with 9 touchdown passes and 4 interceptions. Last year his completion rate was 68% with 24 touchdowns and just 3 picks. Of his seven interceptions the past season and a half, three have occurred in Toombs County. The Vidalia Indians picked off two passes this season at Buck Cravey Field and last year, in the Pit, Morgan intercepted a pass on fourth down and 16 in the second quarter.

Iannone shoots the ball out quickly and has excellent touch on his throws whether they are short, intermediate or long. Although not big, at 6-0 and 185 pounds, he is strong enough and quick enough to extend a play and find the open receiver. He runs a 4.8 40. Last year, in Lyons, he completed 11-of-14 passes for 181 yards and two TD’s.

“The quarterback is such a phenomenal leader,” coach Richie Marsh said. “When they need a play he finds a way to make it. He’s a grinder. He works hard in the off season. You see him at a lot of camps. He’s gonna find a way to pull a game out.”

Bulldogs work on defending against the pass

Jonathan Benjamin breaks up a pass intended for Chandler Lynn
Ashlee Ashley separates Derrick Mincey from the ball with a solid hit

Senior Travis Blackshear (#2 5-10 175) leads the Benedictine running game with 682 yards. He averages 11.2 yards per carry and has scored 5 touchdowns. Last year against TCHS he toted the ball twice for 27-yards. Blackshear also leads the team in receiving yards with 307 on 14 catches and he has scored 5 TD’s. If he catches the ball you better tackle him quickly or else he will use his 4.5 speed to outrace a defensive back to the end zone. He sets up as a flanker or a wing and they run the jet sweep to get him to the edge. Against Swainsboro he scored on a long run on a jet sweep play and then later he reversed field and broke off another long run.

Number 1 Rico Powers Jr. is a 6-2 180 pound sophomore who has run for 388-yards (7.8) and scored four touchdowns. He has also caught 13 passes for 254-yards and 4 TD’s. He is elusive running the ball with his 4.6 speed and as a receiver he will use his height to catch a pass that only he can reach.

Terrick Smalls was stuffed at the line of scrimmage by the Bulldog defense last season on his 5 rushes for 7-yards. However, this season the 5-10 205 pound junior who wears number 13, is averaging 5.6 yards per carry and he has 286-rushing yards with 4 touchdowns. He takes short strides as his legs churn quickly. Smalls sets up in the backfield with Iannone.

Jakeen Harris, #6- 5-11 175 pounds- is a three-way threat. The safety leads the team in tackles with 65 including 40 solo stops. He had four total against the Dawgs last season with two solo’s and two assists. He is dangerous on kick off returns and in three games offensively he has rushed for 157-yards including 66 on 4 carries at Vidalia.

The Cadets have won 21 games in a row including their 15-0 state championship run. “They are champions,” Marsh said. “They don’t make mistakes. It’s tough to put them in a bad position because they have been doing it with the same guys for a good amount of time.”

The Bulldogs are coming off a 42-7 win at Bryan County and in that victory they stepped up their passing game. McBride completed 9-for-14 passes for 117-yards and 1 touchdown. Six different Dawgs caught at least one pass with Jaquail Boyd leading the way with 2 catches for 56-yards. Freshman Chandler Lynn, making his first varsity start, snagged two passes for 41-yards. Each receiver had a long catch for 30-yards.

“We have been wanting to get the passing game going since we began the season,” Marsh said after Monday practice. “You saw against Hephzibah we were able to throw and catch the ball pretty good and we made some big plays doing it. We have just kind of struggled with it since that point. It’s not because we haven’t been working on it. We have been working on it everyday. Coach Hamlin and coach Pysh continue to work at it and we were able to get some things going against Bryan County and we are going to need it Thursday night.”

Last year McBride complete 5-of-9 passes against Benedictine for 137 yards- his highest passing total of 2016.

Toombs County Unofficial Statistics (through six games)

Rushing

Keshawn Morgan 116 carries for 856 yards (7.4)  Long 37  9 TD’s

Dalton McBride 51 carries for 258 yards (5.1)  Long 34  5 TD’s

Jeidon Sistrunk 42 carries for 215 yards (5.1)  Long 39  4 TD’s

Demetrius Owens 4 carries for 28-yards (7.0)  Long 13

Derek Mincey 2 carries for 27 yards (13.5) Long 20

Alex Hunt 1 carry for 2 yards

Totals  216 caries for 1,328 (6.1) Long 39 18 TD’s   

Passing 

Dalton McBride 21-for-47 (45%) for 256 yards  Long 45 yards  1 interceptions and 1 TD

Receiving

Jaquail Boyd 8 catches for 126 yards  Long 33

Nykwan Coleman 3 catches for 53 yards  Long 45

D.J. Matthews 5 catches for 31 yards  Long 9 1 TD

Chandler Lynn 2 catches for 41 yards

Keshawn Morgan 1 catch for 11 yards

Adam Edwards 2 catches for 5 yards

Kicking

Rig Tinoco PAT 17-for-18 (94 %)   FG 7-for-12   Made 27, 28, 28, 32, 40, 42 and 44. Missed 35, 37, 39, 43 and 47.