By Josh Kraeger
Special to the Daily
The Mount Zion Bulldogs came out firing on all cylinders Friday night at Southern Crescent stadium, outscoring the Riverdale Raiders 35-7 to maintain a perfect record at 4-0.
The Bulldogs scored at will in the first quarter, notching 18 first quarter points. Among these were a 36-yard field goal by junior Josue Acosta and a safety scored on an overthrown punt snap by the Raiders.
However, the real story of the first quarter was senior running back Quarterrio Morgan. Morgan had rushing touchdowns of 25 yards and 44 yards in the first quarter en route to another explosive performance.
Morgan finished the half with 103 yards on seven carries, and notched 13 more yards on two second half carries to end with nine carries for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
"I played middle school ball with most of those kids, so thats how I treated them, like kids," Morgan said.
The Bulldogs continued to run the scoreboard throughout the first half, with the defense picking up the intensity. Senior Austin Smith notched two first half interceptions, both leading to successful 36-yard field goal attempts by Acosta.
"Getting those picks helped keep the momentum on our side," Smith said.
Smith did more in this game than simply patrolling the secondary. He also had two receiving touchdowns, one of which was a 19-yard catch on a fade route to end the first half.
"That helped Montel get confidence in himself because when he plays good, we all play good," Smith said. At the half, the Bulldogs led 28-0, but their onslaught was not yet over.
On the third play of the second half, sophomore quarterback Montel Buchanan threw a short pass to Smith. What looked like a sure tackle turned into a 62-yard touchdown completion, and Mount Zion held a commanding 35-0 lead.
The rest of the third quarter was a defensive struggle between the Bulldogs and Raiders, with neither team scoring after Smith's early touchdown.
Sophomore running back DeAnthony Franklin paced the Bulldogs' offense with 76 yards on 13 carries. Smith did return a Riverdale punt for a touchdown but it was called back by a holding penalty.
The fourth quarter got off to a quick start, with the clock running continuously due to the 35-point lead mercy rule. The Raiders found sparks of life in the form of a 60-yard run by senior fullback Chie Zanders and a halfback pass thrown 25 yards for a touchdown to freshman wide receiver Rashad Canty.
Buchanan ended the game with five completions on 11 attempts for 133 yards and two touchdowns. Smith finished with three receptions for 94 yards and two touchdowns. The Bulldogs maintained perfection and look to keep winning for the remainder of the season.
"We're 4-0 and we've worked hard, we're probably the hardest working team in Clayton County," Buchanan said. Smith agreed with Buchanan on the team's work ethic.
"We've worked hard enough to deserve our record and we're going to try and stay undefeated too," Smith said. To keep a perfect record, the Bulldogs will have to stay vigilant about upcoming oppents and keep working hard.
"Every team's our biggest competition because every week's different," Buchanan said. "We just have to come out and play and we'll come out on top."
Riverdale (1-4) will look to rebound next week against Jonesboro (1-3). Meanwhile, Mount Zion (4-0) has high expectations for their game next week against Mundy's Mill (0-5).
"65-0 is all I can say," Morgan said. "We set the record last year at 65-6, so we're going to try and break it this year."