EASTPOINT — Inside the opponent’s red zone was not where Bell and Franklin County confronted each other for most all of their game Thursday night.
Instead, two sturdy defenses battled it out in the belly of the football field, with the Bulldogs coming away with an 8-0 victory over the Seahawks.
“We weren’t clicking very well tonight and that had a lot to do with what they were doing to us. But our defense stepped up,” said Bell coach Joey Whittington, who in his fifth year has led the Bulldogs to their first 3-0 start in a decade.
An error-prone evening in which the Seahawks fumbled the ball four times and the Bulldogs lost a fumble and three interceptions began on Bell’s opening drive. After a 40-yard run by Bulldog sophomore John Powers advanced deep into Seahawk territory, Franklin County senior defensive tackle Jesse Page recovered a fumble on the next play.
On the Seahawks subsequent drive, a fumbled pitchout was recovered by senior linebacker Sammy Loveday. The Bulldogs began a seven-play, 50-yard drive that culminated in a 14-yard touchdown run by Powers with 6:26 left in the first quarter. Senior place-kicker Matt Steingraber’s extra point was blocked, and a 6-0 lead was established that would remain unchanged nearly the entire the game.
The Seahawk defense forced a Bell punt, and Franklin County drove to the Bell 26 before losing another fumble.
“They were killing our guards to start with and that’s what was causing the fumbles,” said first-year Franklin County coach Tony Yeomans, whose 0-3 squad is still searching for its first offensive touchdown of the season.
Early in the second quarter, Seahawks freshman defensive back Lamarius Martin had the first of two interceptions when he picked off Johnathan Walls, but Franklin County couldn’t capitalize. Nor could the Seahawks come away with points after junior defensive back Ethan Riley picked off a third-and-long Walls’ pass with 5:13 left in the half.
“We’re going to do some things different. I don’t think I’ve ever been shut out in three games,” said Yeomans, whose team was blanked for the second straight game. “We missed too many assignments and we turned the ball over too many times.”
On the Seahawks’ last drive of the game with 2:10 left, an errant punt snap went out of the end zone for a safety to provide the final margin.
Franklin County seeks its first win when it hosts Liberty County on Sept. 15.