By Phil Albert
Mt. Zion opened its Region 2-AAAAA football season in dominating fashion with a 37-13 victory over host Stockbridge Friday night.
The Bulldogs scored 20 straight second-half points while holding Stockbridge's time of possession to less than three minutes in the half.
Mt. Zion started its possessions in Stockbridge territory seven times, including three times inside the Tiger 20.
The Bulldogs amassed 394 yards offensively, stifling the Tigers to 90, only eight of which came in the second half.
To no surprise, the Bulldogs are concerned about depth this year, but having many two-way players with such an abundance of talent will make the Bulldogs a contender throughout the year.
"We have to stay focused and prevent injuries," running back Josh Chapman said after the game. "We had to get our heads together after our loss to Lovejoy. We want to get a good spot in the region."
Chapman was a major part of the Mt. Zion wrecking crew, rushing for 103 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught an 11-yard touchdown pass as well as booting a 23-yard field goal to end the first half ? all while doing kickoffs and extra points on special teams.
"My ground game is the best," he said. "I just want to contribute. I still have work to do on my game."
Up 17-7 entering the third quarter, the Bulldogs used over six minutes of the clock in sustaining a 14-play drive that resulted in Chapman's 11-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Emory Clark.
After the Tigers failed to move the ball on three incomplete passes, Mt. Zion's Tray Robinson rushed through the Stockbridge line and blocked the Tiger punt, giving the Bulldogs possession at the Stockbridge 5-yard line. Chapman scored on the next play and added the extra point, giving the Bulldogs a 31-7 lead.
Later in the quarter, the Bulldogs again gained possession in Stockbridge territory at the 36 and reserve quarterback Valin Leggett capped the drive eight plays later with six-yard run giving the Bulldogs a 37-7 lead with 8:35 remaining in the game.
Three plays later, Brandon Anthony returned a pass interception 34 yards to the Tiger 6, another strong scoring opportunity for the Bulldogs.
However, Stockbridge's Perry Riley provided the lone Tiger second-half highlight with a 95-yard fumble return up the left sidelines with 6:32 remaining.
Mt. Zion then ended the game with a nice 11-play drive to the Tiger 3 as time expired.
The Bulldog three-back backfield stymied Stockbridge all night, amassing 316 rushing yards on the night.
Clark passed for 78 yards and provided one of the best hits on defense, preventing a pass completion.
Derek Slaughter and Robert Jackson led the stingy Bulldog defense with several big hits.
Mt. Zion opened the scoring in the first quarter, as Clark hit Isaiah Bryant with a 30-yard touchdown pass capping a four-play drive late in the quarter which started on the Tiger 48.
Bryant was so alone in the end zone, assistant coach Bob Ryan congratulated him by saying, "Fair catch it next time it hangs that long."
The Tigers moved 64 yards on their next possession, including two key first-down passes from Willie Copeland to Xavier Glenn. Copeland threw a 20-yard scoring strike to Riley, tying the score at 7.
But Bryant electrified the visitors with a 68-yard kickoff return to the Tiger 19 and four plays later, Chapman scored with a 5-yard run.
Chapman's field goal ended a 12-play drive with just four seconds remaining in the first half, as the Bulldogs built the 17-7 lead.