By Lori Cathey
With the Gibson County High School student body celebrating Homecoming activities throughout the week, the Pioneers kept the celebration going with a 44-0 shutout of Sheffield Friday night. It’s the Pioneers (3-1, 1-0) third shutout of the season. The stingy Pioneer defense forced four Sheffield turnovers, and the team converted all of them into points.
Gibson County wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. The Pioneers received the opening kickoff with Colton Lumpkin returning the ball back to the 47-yard line. Running back Hayden McGuire followed with an 8-yard run. Quarterback Adam Smithson found wide receiver Will Cantrell for a 39-yard touchdown. Hayden Crandall’s extra point kick was good to give GCHS a 7-0 lead.
On its first possession, Sheffield moved the ball to the 8-yard line where Smithson intercepted a pass at the 2 and returned it 98 yards for a touchdown. Crandall’s extra point put the Pioneers on top 14-0.
On Sheffield’s next possession, the GCHS defensive line forced a fumble on the second play of the drive. John Carter Phillips recovered and returned it for a 31-yard touchdown. Crandall’s extra point kick was good to extend the Gibson County lead to 21-0.
The Pioneers defense forced Sheffield to punt the ball on fourth down. A bad snap gave GCHS good field position at the 39-yard line. With four consecutive runs, McGuire scored on a 4-yard run with Crandall kicking the extra point to make it 28-0.
Special teams came up big again when Kaleb Johnson blocked a Sheffield punt, and De’Andre Snow recovered it at the 18-yard line. McGuire again carried the ball four straight times and scored on a 5-yard run with Crandall adding the extra point to give Gibson County a 35-0 to end the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Pioneers scored on McGuire’s 3-yard run, and Crandall kicked the extra point to extend their lead to 42-0. Four plays later, the Gibson County defense stripped the ball from a Sheffield running back. Sheffield recovered on the 1-yard line. On the next play, linebacker Austin Fletcher hunted down the running back, tackling him behind the goal line for a safety that put the Pioneers on top 44-0.
The Pioneers’ impressive first-half performance put the Mercy Rule in affect for the remainder of the game. The teams played two, six-minute quarters with a running clock in the second half.
Gibson County had a total of 205 yards – 154 rushing yards and 51 passing yards with 20 first downs. Hayden McGuire was named the Offensive Player of the Game. He had 17 carries for 156 yards with three touchdowns. Kaleb Johnson was named the Defensive Player of the Game. He had five tackles with two for loss, a forced fumble and blocked punt. Hayden Crandall was named the Special Teams Players of the Game. He was 6 for 6 on extra points and had seven kicks for 220 yards.
Offensively, Damian Overstreet had one carry for 8 yards; Will Cantrell had two receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown; Adam Smithson completed 2 of 2 passes for 51 yards with a touchdown; Colton Lumpkin had two kickoff returns for 75 yards and one punt return for 26 yards; Hayden McGuire one kickoff return for 15 yards.
The Pioneers held Sheffield to 17 total yards of offense and only nine first downs. Defensively, Jake Patterson had six tackles with three for a loss; Kyleland Johnson five tackles with two for loss; Austin Fletcher three tackles with three for loss and a safety; Adam Smithson two tackles with an interception for a touchdown; John Carter Phillips two tackles with a fumble recovery for a touchdown; De’Andre Snow two tackles; Darius Allen, Hayden Crandall, Ethan Ward, Elijah Garcia, Damian Overstreet and Hayden Stallings each had a tackle.
Gibson County will travel to face Union City in a region match up Friday at 7 p.m.