Piedmont couldn’t quite get things going on the offensive side of the ball Friday night, and fell to Bishop McGuinness 42-7. The loss dropped the Wildcats to 4-4 on the season and added some pressure in securing a playoff berth with a 3-2 record in districts.
Piedmont got off to a, seemingly, strong start on its opening drive as Cassius Calhoun was able to find some running room before the drive stalled around midfield. The Wildcat defense stood out through out the game, despite the final score. Darrius Burriss was a near constant thorn in the side of the Fighting Irish quarterback.
Momentum started to swing in favor of McGuinness late in the first quarter, when the Wildcats were pinned at its own one-yard line following a stellar punt. The Wildcats were forced to punt three plays later, and the Irish turned that into a long touchdown run. A Collin Bricker interception on the following drive set up another McGuinness rushing touchdown and the Wildcats quickly found themselves down two scores in the first quarter.
After finding running room early, Piedmont couldn’t get any traction in the second quarter. Piedmont was also plagued by some passing woes with just one completed pass in the first quarter. The Wildcats wouldn’t complete its second catch until there was 9:17 left in the second quarter.
A chance to comeback presented itself when Piedmont had, what appeared to be, a turnover off a Bichop McGuinness fumble during a quarterback handoff. However, the fumble was overturned when a referee said it was an incomplete pass. The Wildcats would be victims of another overturned fumble later in the game.
McGuinness was held scoreless in the second quarter, but tacked on another two scores in the third quarter. Piedmont found itself on the wrong side of another interception.
The Wildcats finally got on the board with 9:39 left in the final quarter on a Bricker dive. Hunter Kirton would recover a fumble on the ensuing Irish drive, but Calhoun would fumble on the next drive and Bishop McGuinness tacked on a pair of extra touchdowns as time ran down to bring the score to 42-7.
Bricker finished with 59 yards on 8 of 32 passing with three interceptions and gained 60 yards on 11 rushes and scored the Wildcats only touchdown. Calhoun ran 25 times for 88 yards. Steffan Funkhouser rushed once for 12 yards. Funkhouser had three receptions for 28 yards. Dylan Broyles had three receptions for 23 yards, Christian Foster had one catch for three yards and Austin Ray hauled in one pass for five yards.
“We have to get this off our minds quick,” Burriss said. “We have to focus on the next game. I’m really at a loss for words right now; we need to find out who we are and focus.”
“Our defense played well tonight, but the offense put them in some bad spots,” Coach Craig Church said. “We lost the field position battle early, and that is tough to recover from. (McGuinness) is a good physical team. Defensively, we played them well early but they just got worn down. We need to string together drives on offense, to give our defensive guys a little time to rest, but we couldn’t do that (on Friday).
“Now, we need to press reset. Our next two games will decide our postseason fate. We can’t overlook these two teams. Hopefully, having two home games to close out the season will give us a little upward momentum heading into the post season.”
McGuinness improved to 5-2 with the win and took sole possession of second place in district 4A-1.