ZEPHYR — The Zephyr Bulldogs kept their unblemished record intact, and head coach Shannon Williams moved within one win of 100 for his career, in Friday night's 60-14 drubbing of the Cherokee Indians.
The Bulldogs (6-0) finished with 304 yards of total offense — 214 passing and 90 rushing — as Zephyr took advantage of a short field on multiple occasions. The Bulldogs also created three turnovers and scored once on the defensive end, as Cherokee (2-4) produced 200 total yards.
“I thought we came out on fire offensively and defensively,” said Williams, whose team built a 28-8 advantage after one quarter. “We told them in the locker room we wanted to come out and play at a fast pace and get the momentum early and almost everything went our way in the first quarter.”
Kason King completed all five of his pass attempts for 168 yards and three touchdowns, while Hunter Williams connected on his only pass attempt for a 46-yard scoring strike. Devin Williams led all receivers with four grabs for 155 yards, including three touchdown receptions, while Nicholas Moody hauled in a 40-yard scoring toss and Mason Rogers made a 19-yard reception.
“We can throw ball, but we've been trying to throw it with our running backs,” said Coach Williams, whose career record improved to 99-42 Friday night. “But tonight Cherokee did a pretty good job stopping the run so we went ahead and let Kason throw. We had a few wide open receivers but the ball went to Devin more times than not, which is understandable.”
On the ground, Rogers rushed for 88 of Zephyr's 90 yards and three touchdowns — on his first three carries.
“The big plays come from good blocking and we've got some speed in the backfield,” Coach Williams said. “When we get some block we can go. But Cherokee did a good job in the second quarter getting some pressure on us on they didn't let us out of the backfield.”
Devin Williams returned a fumble 5 yards for a touchdown, Robert Clark intercepted a pass near midfield and William Simpson stripped the ball away from an Indian ball carrier deep in Cherokee territory to account for Zephyr's three takeaways. The Bulldogs did give up a 44-yard touchdown pass, a 25-yard touchdown run, and another carry of 35 yards, which accounted for 104 of Cherokee's 200 yards. But the Indians mustered just 96 yards on their remaining 36 plays — an average of 2.7 yards per play — with Cherokee gaining more than 10 yards on only three additional snaps.
“Overall our defensive goal was three turnovers and a defensive touchdown tonight and we did it,” Coach Williams said. “This was a game to really see where we're at. Two weeks ago Cherokee played Jonesboro and it was a 20-point game heading into the fourth quarter. You never know what will happen, but I feel pretty excited about where we're at right now. Our expectations have been high all year.”
Zephyr opened the scoring just 1:14 into the contest as, after Simpson stole the ball from Cherokee running back Damon Campbell, Rogers scored on a 14-yard carry on the Bulldogs' first play from scrimmage.
Cherokee advanced to the Bulldog 38 before turning the ball over on downs on its second possession and, after a 34-yard hook up from King to Devin Williams, the duo connected again for an 11-yard touchdown, boosting the Zephyr lead to 16-0 at the 3:15 mark.
The Indians responded with a 44-yard touchdown pass from Kellon Everett to Kagen Hernandez, but Zephyr answered with another one-play drive of its own — a 35-yard Rogers scoring sprint that gave the Bulldogs a 22-8 edge with 2:40 left in the opening stanza.
Before the period ended, after Cherokee failed to convert a fourth-and-12 at the Zephyr 25, King found Rogers for a 19-yard gain through the air, then Rogers rumbled the final 38 yards on the ground to stretch the advantage to 28-8 with 14 seconds left in the quarter.
The second period scoring started just 14 seconds in as Devin Williams scooped up a Cherokee fumble at the Indian 5 and trotted into the end zone to pad the Bulldog cushion, 36-8.
Clark's interception set up Zephyr's next touchdown, which came on a one-play possession as Hunter Williams hurled a line drive to Devin Williams for a 46-yard score and a 44-8 lead.
Cherokee advanced to the Zephyr 10 on its next possession but again was stonewalled by the Bulldog defense. Three plays later, King found Devin Williams running free for a 64-yard touchdown pass, which pushed the lead to 52-8 with 3:52 left in the half.
The Indians recorded their second touchdown with 59 seconds left in the half as Campbell broke a couple of tackles to complete a 25-yard scoring scamper and close the gap to 52-14.
But on the final play of the half, Moody got behind the Cherokee defense and King floated in a 40-yard scoring strike to make the score 58-14. King's line drive two-point kick just cleared the cross bar for a 46-point Zephyr advantage, which ended the game at halftime.
The Bulldogs' bye falls next week, then they welcome Gorman on Oct. 20 in their final outing before the start of District 11-A Division I action. Zephyr opens league play at Evant Oct. 27, hosts Jonesboro Nov. 3 and finishes up at Blanket Nov. 10.