By Gary Smith
In a match up of state-ranked teams, Peabody dominated Dresden 38-18 en route to breaking the Lions’ 20-game winning streak.
Over the last several years, the two programs have developed the reputation for playing spoiler for each other in the regular season and playoffs. Before Friday night, Dresden’s last loss (35-14) was administered by Peabody in the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs on November 20, 2015.
As has been the case for the last several years, both teams featured skill position playmakers, who influenced the game, but the match up was ultimately decided by line domination and physicality. Peabody rushed the football 60 times for 296 yards and limited Dresden to three big-play touchdowns.
“We played well up front, which has kind of been our MO this year. The guys we have up front are really good players. Jarel (Dickson) had a really good game running the ball ,and Cooper (Baugus) threw it well. We played hard, but made some mistakes on plays that I wish we could have back. We only gave up three big plays on defense. We made three huge mistakes. Their tailback Drake Yates can run and, when you make those mistakes, that type of kid can make you pay,” explained Peabody Coach Shane Jacobs.
Hudson Nanney was also a playmaker for Dresden. He made plays all over the field, both offensively and defensively. Perhaps his most impressive play of the night occurred after the home team orchestrated a goal line stand to thwart Peabody’s 13-snap scoring threat at the one-yard line. On the ensuing snap, he broke free for a 99-yard touchdown. The extra point kick sailed wide to the left of the upright, but Dresden had broken on top 6-0 with 2:57 left in the first period.
Returning to action after a three-game absence due to a hip injury, Peabody sophomore quarterback Cooper Baugus immediately made his presence felt as he rushed 17 times for 75 yards and went 6/9/1 in the passing department for 92 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He did an excellent job of running Trenton’s offense and keeping the Dresden defense off guard with a balanced ground and aerial attack.
“We are starting to get healthy, which is a good thing. We are glad Cooper is healthy. Hopefully, we can get a few other guys healthy to help with our depth. We are starting to get thin in some spots. It is tough when guys are out because you have to play with backups. If those guys get hurt, it gets difficult to try and find some answers when you have some guys injured,” noted Coach Jacobs.
After falling behind 6-0 to start the game, Peabody quickly established control with 24 points in the second quarter. Accounting for the scores were Khance Hill on a 13-yard touchdown pass thrown by Baugus; Jarel Dickson on a five-yard TD hurdle over the goal line; Zach Grooms on a 26-yard field goal; and Noah Halbrook on a 55-yard touchdown pass reception on a go-route from Baugus. Grooms kicked all three extra points.
During this time span, the visiting squad scored 10 points off a pair of turnovers provided by Jarel Dickson on an interception and Bryce Franks on a fumble recovery.
After quarterback Drake Yates scored a 53-yard touchdown on the last play of the first half to trim the deficit to 24-12, Peabody put the game out of reach with touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters. Dickson added a two-yard TD plunge, and Jacquez Wilkins plowed through the middle for a three-yard touchdown. Grooms tacked on both extra points for a 38-12 lead. DHS tallied a late TD to make the final score 38-18.
“It is always good to beat Dresden. The Lions have emerged as a West Tennessee power because they have played really good football the last year-and-a-half. Just being able to beat them was a big win for us and our program. The opportunity to snap winning streaks is fun. We broke Union City’s win streak two years ago. It was fun to be a part of stopping Dresden’s streak last night,” admitted Coach Jacobs.
Evaluating Peabody’s performance, Coach Jacobs acknowledged, “The offensive line, for the most part, did well. Dresden does a lot of things defensively with stunts and exotic blitzes. Coach (Jason) Driggers did a good job with those guys all week long, and I thought it showed last night. We played well up front, and that is why we were able to run the ball. I think we carried it 60 times. So when you are able to run it that many times and control the clock like that, it has a lot to do with O-Line play,” explained Coach Jacobs.
Offensive linemen helping Peabody amass 388 total yards and 19 first downs were J.C. Eubanks, Osiris Wilson, Kell Harvey, Brantley Whitwell and Matthew Martin.
Also, the Tide’s defensive line was a force. Of Dresden’s 233 total yards, 183 yards came on three plays. “Khance (Hill) and Marvin (Cliff, Jr.) are really good defensive ends. We got a little bit out of our fundamentals, which happens. We will take Monday to get back into our fundamentals. We have the bye week coming up. So we need to rein some things back in and get back into the fundamentals. There are some spots we have to play a little better fundamentally to give us a chance going forward in the playoffs.”
Statistically, Peabody amassed 60 rushes for 296 yards (4.9-yard average) and passed for 92 yards for 388 total yards and 19 first downs. Dresden registered 233 total yards, all on the ground, and six renewed series. The Lions went 0/7/1 in the aerial department.
PHS did not fumble the ball, and DHS relinquished its only bobble. The visiting squad was penalized four times for 40 yards, and the home team was flagged on six occasions for 36 yards.
Offensive leaders included Jarel Dickson,with 29 rushes for 137 yards and two touchdowns; Jacquez Wilkins with 10 carries for 56 yards and one TD; Noah Halbrook with four runs for 28 yards and two receptions for 58 yards and one score; Je’Nevee Robinson with two catches for 12 yards; Khance Hill with one grab for 13 yards and a touchdown; and Eli Hammonds with one catch for nine yards.
Leading defender was Marvin Cliff, Jr.,with six tackles, two assists, two tackles-for-loss and one quarterback sack.
Next, Peabody (5-1) makes the short road trip to Gibson County (1-5) on Friday. Kickoff is 7 p.m.