Piedmont Earns First Title With OT Win

Piedmont and Cordova opened the 2009 Super Six in dramatic fashion with the Bulldogs earned an overtime win.

Tuscaloosa, Ala.--Coming into Thursday's Class 3A State Championship game, everyone knew about Cordova's Ryan Smith and the Kentucky commitment delivered with 125 yards rushing and two touchdowns and added 59 receiving yards along with a 54-yard kickoff return, but it wasn't enough for the Blue Devils as Piedmont won its first ever title 35-28 in overtime.

While Smith is well known the C & C Touchdown Factory from Piedmont, quarterback Chase Childers and running back Christian Cantrell, came up bigger as the duo led the Bulldogs to the title with Cantrell rushing for 108 yards and three touchdowns, including the game winner from eight yards out in overtime.

Childers may have played an even bigger role for Piedmont though as the quarterback rushed for 102 yards and added 56 yards through the air and two scores. Not a big time recruit, Piedmont Coach Steve Smith said his quarterback is just a winner and it showed on Thursday.

"He's a three-year starter and I love him like he's my own," Smith said. "He knows what we're trying to do. He can tell me and we can communicate sometimes…he does a good job of just managing the game. Chase is nobody's Division I prospect. He's too short, he's too everything else. I tell you what, he's too much of a winner. He's too good. I'll take that any day of the week."

With the game tied at 28 heading to overtime following a 17-play, 74-yard drive by Cordova that took nearly eight minutes off the clock before Jake Howton scored from four yards out, the Blue Devils appeared to have all the momentum. That lasted just two plays into the extra period as Cantrell scampered over from the eight to put Piedmont in the lead.

Trying to respond, Howton was tackled for a five-yard loss on first down for Cordova. Attempting to put the team on his back, Smith struggled for four yards before the ball was stripped out his hands and recovered by Piedmont to end the game and give the Bulldogs the title.

"It's not the end result I wanted, but I'm proud of everybody," Smith said. "I'm proud of how everybody kept fighting throughout the year. Just because we lost Tim Simon everybody said we weren't going to make it. We just kept working and got back here. It wasn't the result we wanted."

Cordova's Ryan Smith had a huge game for the Blue Devils in the loss.

Piedmont got the scoring started as Christian Cantrell scampered over from 19 yards out for the first score of the game with just over two minutes left in the first quarter. That capped off a 10-play, 74-yard drive for the Bulldogs, but the missed extra point left the score at 6-0.

Cordova responded with Smith coming up with two big plays of his own. First he returned the kickoff 53 yards to put the Blue Devils in good shape. He then took the pitch from his tailback spot and scampered 26 yards for the touchdown. Hunter Beaird added the extra point to put his team up 7-6.

Following a Smith interception on the Piedmont 39, Cordova got back to business with a bruising nine-play drive that culminated with a Jake Howton eight-yard run for a touchdown. The extra-point gave the Blue Devils a 14-6 lead, but Piedmont would respond in a big way thanks to a momentum swing supplied by Cordova.

With the lead the Blue Devils tried to surprised Piedmont with an onside kick, but the ball failed to go 10 yards and gave the Bulldogs great field position. Childers and Cantrell then supplied the offense as Childers' 19-yard run on second down moved the ball to the Cordova 27. Four plays later Cantrell took it over from the 11-yard line to bring Piedmont within two. The conversion failed though leaving the Bulldogs still down two.

Cordova looked like it would respond as a 44-yard reception by Smith from Jake Howton on the first play from scrimmage moved the football all the way to the 21 of Piedmont. Thanks to a key holding call the Blue Devils eventually were forced to go for it on fourth down with Smith's pass broken up in the end zone.

That gave Childers and the Piedmont offense just 1:35 left in the first half to go almost the length of the field. The Bulldogs responded as Childers ran for 33 yards on the drive to move his team all the way to the Cordova 18-yard line. With just seconds remaining in the half Childers threw a touchdown pass to Jamaal Johnson and he added a two-point conversion for good measure to put Piedmont up 20-14 at the half.

The Bulldogs extended the lead to 14 on a Cantrell touchdown catch from Childers following a 66-yard drive to open the second half. Down 14 Cordova responded with a 62-yard drive of its own capped off by a Smith 16-yard run. That cut the lead down to seven and set the stage for the dramatic ending to open the 2009 Super Six.

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