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Bryant, big plays lead Stockbridge past Dutchtown

Photo by Jason Mussell / Stockbridge’s Robert Beecham (4) tries to run down Dutchtown quarterback Donovahn Jones in the Tigers’ 45-19 victory Friday at home.

Photo by Jason Mussell / Stockbridge’s Robert Beecham (4) tries to run down Dutchtown quarterback Donovahn Jones in the Tigers’ 45-19 victory Friday at home.

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Photo by Jason Mussell / Stockbridge running back Malik Bryant rushed for 177 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in the Tigers’ big win over Dutchtown.

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Photo by Jason Mussell / Stockbridge quarterback Trenton Earl (13) outruns the Dutchtown defense. The Tigers scored a season-high 45 points in a crucial Region 4A-AAAA game.

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Photo by Jason Mussell / Stockbridge defensive back Kendarius Webster (right) leaps at Dutchtown running back Malik Barkley to try to bring him down.

STOCKBRIDGE — Dutchtown came into its game at Stockbridge highly anticipating its opportunity to gain traction in Region 4A-AAAA. But the Bulldogs left Tiger Stadium hoping to quickly forget this one.

The Tigers’ Malik Bryant torched the Dutchtown defense with 177 yards on 19 carries and a score, as No. 8 Stockbridge defeated Dutchtown 45-19 on Homecoming Night.

Stockbridge coach Kevin Whitley said he was pleased with his ever-improving offensive line.

“Ever since the M.L. King loss, I told them that we’ll go as far as they take us,” Whitley said. “And they’ve responded. We have mixed and matched some guys and have about six or seven right now that do a fairly good job. As long as those kids up front are playing good, we have a chance to win a game.”

Dutchtown coach Jason Galt said the Bulldogs’ failure to stop the run came down to one thing.

“Tackling, tackling, tackling,” Galt said. “We might spend every day for the next two weeks just tackling for two hours a day. A lot of people make football harder than it has to be. It’s all blocking and tackling. If you do that, you win games, and tonight we just didn’t. That falls back on us as coaches not preparing them well enough.”

Stockbridge made quick work of the Bulldogs, scoring on its first five possessions, the first of which was an eight-play, 70-yard drive capped by Corey Slaughter’s 6-yard touchdown run from an option pitch.

After the Tigers defense stopped Dutchtown on a three and out, Bryant burst through Dutchtown’s front seven for a 20-yard gain — the first of many big chunks of yardage he broke off. Two plays later, Stockbridge quarterback Trenton Earl found Shammua Harold, coming out of the backfield for a 17-yard scoring strike, to put Stockbridge up 14-0 as the first quarter expired.

Dutchtown answered when Missouri commit Donovahn Jones connected with Rodel Shorter on a perfectly thrown fade route. The 8-yard scoring strike drew Dutchtown back to within a touchdown. But it would get no better for the Bulldogs for the rest of the night.

Galt had no answer for Stockbridge’s Wing T option attack. It kept making big plays all night, including Slaughter’s 46-yard scamper that set up a Bryant’s 3-yard scoring plunge to put Stockbridge up 21-7 with 6:10 left in the first half.

Then it was Whitley’s defense’s turn to flex its muscles. On Dutchtown’s first possession after the Stockbridge score, Jones rolled left and lofted a pass right into the hands of Tigers defensive back Javon Brandon.

The defense held Jones — who smashed a school record last week with 398 yards passing and six touchdown tosses — in check for most of the night. The senior threw two interceptions and was largely prevented from running wild.

Earl immediately went to work, hitting Kendarius Webster in stride on a 46-yard pass play. That put Harold in position, two plays later, to score from 16 yards and stretch Stockbridge’s lead to 28-7.

Both teams would add one more score apiece, and Stockbridge would take a commanding 35-13 lead into the locker rooms.

Despite the deficit, Galt said he charged his team to keep fighting on the field while fighting against the temptation to peer at the scoreboard.

“We challenged them and said that for the rest of the game, just play as hard as you can and don’t worry about the score,” Galt said. “And in the second half, we got better. We scored a touchdown. We played better defensively. It was just too little too late.”

Earl added a 13-yard touchdown run and Andrus Guillen booted a 35-yard field goal to provide the final scores for Stockbridge. Earl completed seven of nine passes for 146 yards and two passing scores to add to his touchdown run, drawing the praise of his coach.

Since the season-opening loss to M.L. King, Earl has led the Tigers to six straight victories, which matches the longest winning streak in Stockbridge school history. The last time Stockbridge ripped off six straight was over the 1967-68 seasons.

Whitley hopes people are taking notice of his senior quarterback’s steady play.

“It’s about time people start mentioning how good of quarterback Trent is,” Whitley said. “He still hasn’t thrown an interception all year. We’re so run-heavy, but just because we don’t throw the ball a lot doesn’t mean we can’t. I think Earl is one of the best quarterbacks in the Southern Crescent.”

Stockbridge improves to 7-1 and 3-0 in region play, while Dutchtown falls to 5-3 and 1-2. Both teams have Woodland next on their schedules. The Tigers will meet the Wolfpack next Friday while Dutchtown sees them after next week’s bye.