Bulldogs score late, hang on

Bulldogs score late, hang on

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Bulldogs score late, hang on

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SMYRNA

It might not have been a classic from the start, but Smyrna gave its fans something to stick around for on Friday night.

Senior wide receiver Xavier Kynard hauled in a 48-yard touchdown pass with 5:38 remaining, and the Bulldogs withstood a furious rally from arch-rival La Vergne as the Bulldogs held on for a 7-6 victory Friday night at Robert L. Raikes Stadium.

Kynard, who played for La Vergne as a freshman and sophomore, accounted for more than one-third of the Bulldogs’ total offense on one play, catching the ball at the 5-yard line and dragging a defender into the end zone for the score. Logan Woodard’s extra point then provided the difference in the game.

“I knew I had to score,” said Kynard, who finished with two catches for 56 yards. “There was no way I was not scoring, and there was no way that these seniors weren’t going to win this game.”

The victory was the first of the year for the Bulldogs (1-4, 1-1 in District 7-AAA), and extended Smyrna’s supremacy in the 26th installment of the series. The Bulldogs have now won 14 straight, dating back to La Vergne’s lone victory in 1999. With the loss, the Wolverines fell to 1-4, 1-1.

“Our motto all year has been to keep fighting,” said Smyrna coach Matt Williams. “I told these kids that if they would come out and just keep fighting that they could be 1-1 in the district and still be in the middle of it, and they bought in.”

In a game marred by 21 penalties and 218 penalty yards, it was a flag that had perhaps the biggest impact on the game. With 1:45 remaining and Smyrna clinging to a 7-0 lead, La Vergne senior tailback Willie Cowan bowled his way into the end zone from 11 yards out to presumably set the stage for overtime. However, the Wolverines were whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct, their 11th penalty of the night and forced to try their extra point from the 18-yard line.

The Wolverines elected to go for two, and quarterback C.J. Fore’s pass to Antonio Cowart fell incomplete in the end zone, allowing Smyrna to run out the clock.

“I don’t know if we could have done anything else to shoot ourselves in the foot and lose the game,” said La Vergne coach Stanton Stevens, whose team committed three turnovers and finished with 127 penalty yards. “Losing this game does nothing to help build this program or change the culture here. Winning would have gone a long way, but losing does nothing.”

La Vergne dominated the offensive statistics, doubling Smyrna’s total yardage (241-120) and outrushing the Bulldogs 147-40. Cowan led all rushers with 90 yards on 13 carries, while Fore complete 14-of-24 passes for 94 yards. However, midway through the fourth quarter, the junior was picked off in the left flat by Smyrna’s D.J. Williams, who returned the ball seven yards to the La Vergne 48. That set up Kynard’s touchdown two plays later.

Rodell finished the night 6-of-10 passing for 90 yards, while Nick Fuqua led the Bulldogs with 34 yards on nine carries..

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