By Evan Grice
There was simply no stopping the Piedmont Wildcats Friday night at Big Elk Stadium, or more specifically running back Darrius Burris.
After a quiet first quarter in which the Wildcat senior ran for just two total yards on the ground with one touchdown, Burris exploded in the second for three touchdowns along with 151 yards, to send Piedmont on its way to a 52-0 blanking of the Elks on the road.
The 52 points are the most scored by a Wildcats team since September 28, 2012 when Piedmont put up 50 points against Cache in a 50-32 victory.
“This has been a very humbling experience for me to say the least,” Burris said about his performance in the second quarter. “I just told my offensive line if they worked for me, I’d do the work for them as well. It felt great being able to contribute like I did out there. We’re a very confident team right now, and this showed it tonight.”
Burris collected his second touchdown of the night on the Wildcats first possession of the second quarter, when he punched it from 14-yards out to make it a 14-0 game with 8:31 remaining before halftime, following his initial score in the first quarter from three yards out.
His third score of the evening came with just over six minutes to go, when he found the end zone from five yards out, before sending Piedmont into the locker room with a 28-0 lead after scoring from three yards out with 17 seconds left in the first half.
Before the Elks could even think of starting a comeback in the second half, Blakely Liebmann extinguished those hopes when he scored a six-yard touchdown run, just two minutes into the second half to make it 35-0.
Perhaps more impressive than the Wildcats offense, was the play of the defense, who forced two fumbles along with two interceptions from Jared Brown, one that occurred in the end zone on a fourth and goal in the third quarter.
“First and foremost, I have to give credit to our coaches for having us so well prepared for this week,” Brown said about the defense’s performance. “We knew their plays like the back of our hand, and the defensive line did a great job pressuring the quarterback all night long. I just happened to be in the right spot for those two interceptions. But, the real work was done in our preparation and execution on the field tonight.”
Brown and the Wildcat defense also blocked a field goal late on, which was returned for a touchdown by Brown, but ultimately called back due to an illegal block in the back.
“We were very balanced tonight and played great on all three sides of the ball,” Piedmont coach Craig Church said. “Our offensive line made life very good for us tonight. I was a little concerned for a moment with the pace being quickened, but our guys adjusted to it and took Elk City out of the game. This was a must win game for us, and we got our district points like we wanted to.”
Butch Hampton was perfect on point after attempts, along with making a 27-yard field goal in the third to make it a 38-0 game.
Josh Hampton and Trevor Gianfillipo then took over in the fourth quarter, connecting on two touchdown receptions of 40 and 34 yards to finish off the scoring for the Wildcats.
Burris finished the game with 174 yards rushing, despite sitting out much of the second half.
Lucas Richert had a quiet night passing, going for 67 yards on 7-of-10 passing.
Piedmont (3-3, 2-1) will now prepare for the visit of the defending state champion Clinton Red Tornadoes next Friday night, Oct. 18 with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. from Stout Field.