Clay County Falls To Westmoreland In Thriller

Story, Photos and Video by Rusty Ellis

The Clay County Bulldogs suffered their first loss of the season, as they were narrowly edged out by Westmoreland 20-19 on the road on Friday.

The Bulldogs first two drives saw them get deep into Eagle territory, but a turnover on downs and an interception prevented them from getting any points on either drive. It wasn’t until the second quarter when the Bulldogs would strike first, as Keaton Arms found Jimmy Burchett in the endzone for a diving touchdown catch.

Westmoreland knotted the score up with 5:22 to go in the first half on a one-yard touchdown run, and the Eagles very nearly took the lead later in the frame. Nate Adams picked off a pass for the Bulldogs in the redzone however, sending the game to halftime in a 7-7 tie.

Clay County came out strong in the third quarter, taking the lead back on a one-yard touchdown run by Joseph Marcom, but the extra point was missed. This put the score at 13-7 with 5:39 left in the quarter.

The Bulldogs seemed to take full control of the game, as Clay dialed up pressure and forced another interception, but the offense stalled out and couldn’t take advantage of it. Then with 5:48 left in the fourth quarter, Westmoreland tied the score up once again on a 40-yard quarterback keeper.  The extra point was also missed however, leaving the score at 13-13.

On the following offensive drive for the Bulldogs, a screen pass was tipped on 2nd and 15 that led to an interception for the Eagles deep into Clay County territory. Just a few plays later, Westmoreland took the lead at 20-13 with just 2:43 to play.

Facing a 4th and 7, the Bulldogs completed a pass downfield that bounced into Jimmy Burchett’s hands, who then lateraled it backwards to Alec Kerr who took it in for a potential game-tying score. Head coach Bruce Lamb elected to go for two and the lead, but the attempt was snuffed out by the Eagles, sealing a 20-19 win.

Despite the loss, Lamb was quick to point out how proud he was of his players’ effort, there were just some moments that needed to be cleaned up.

“We didn’t play great, we made some mistakes,” Lamb said. “We put ourselves behind the ball on multiple plays, and we knew it was going to be a fight coming up here. It always is when we play Westmoreland…we kept fighting. You either win or you learn, and we’ll learn from this one.”

Any time a coach elects to go for two with the game on the line, it’s always questioned immediately if it doesn’t work. For Lamb however, the decision came down to being aggressive on the road in an attempt to take momentum back from the Eagles.

“You’re on the road and they have the momentum,” Lamb said. “We decided to go for the two and we wanted to win the game. We had a shot, but the play just didn’t work like we wanted it to.”

Earlier in the week, Lamb spoke on how he felt his team had another level to their play they could still achieve. While there’s plenty of good to take from this game for his team, Lamb now sees plenty to work on moving forward in the season.

“I love the fire this team plays with,” Lamb said. “There’s things that we can work on, but they’ll put in the work…that’s why all of us coaches are here. We love seeing this team work, and watch them fight. That’s a tough battle for us, and I just love the battle from our kids. It’s going to pay off in the long run.”

The Bulldogs will hit the road again next week, as they travel for a region game against Red Boiling Springs.