In a flash, it was over. Piedmont, ranked No. 2 in Class 3A, bolted out to a 26-0 lead after one quarter and cruised to a 55-7 victory over visiting Cleveland last Friday night.
The Bulldogs got a 20-yard touchdown pass from Ty Sparks to Denard Spears to take a 7-0 lead. Spears then streaked 73 yards with a punt return to increase the lead to 13-0.
Cleveland, playing with back-ups in a couple of key spots, stopped a Piedmont fake punt on the next drive but the Bulldogs intercepted a deep ball on the first play of the possession.
Tyler Lusk came in at quarterback and tossed a short pass to C.J. Savage, who broke two tackles, cut back, and raced 37 yards for the score.
The Bulldogs went on to score five more times, including a safety when a punt snap sailed over Kane Lochamy’s head and a 10-yard return of a fumbled kickoff.
The final score of the half came when Jaret Prater raced 84 yards for a touchdown to increase the Bulldog advantage to 55-0 at the break.
The Panthers played much better in the second half and got on the board late when Brett Erwin hit Coty Blackwood and the sophomore spun away from the defense and raced 44 yards for a touchdown with a little more than five minutes to play in the game.
Piedmont finished with 423 yards of offense while Cleveland picked up 218.
Matt Pelt, who left the game with an injury in the second quarter, completed just 1 of 12 passes for 6 yards and had three interceptions.
Trevor Yates had 68 yards on 15 carries while Cody Blackwood made the most of his three caries with 62 yards. Leo Calderon added 29 yards on four attempts.
Clay Morrison led the Panther defense with 12 tackles. Wyatt Self and Justin Hathcock had six tackles each while Yates had five stops. John Michael Lauderdale had a fumble recovery.
Cleveland dropped to 3-1 overall, 2-1 in 3A Region 5. The Panthers will travel to West End this week.