RISON — The Woodlawn Bears managed to go toe-to-toe with the defending Class 2A state champs for a quarter Friday night, but in the end, the Strong Bulldogs simply had too much size, speed and athleticism as they rolled to a 38-0 win at the Carl Jones Sports Complex.
Strong quarterback Jacoby Heard accounted for five of the six Bulldog touchdowns, scoring three on the ground and passing for two more.
The Bears actually controlled the entire first quarter, taking the opening kickoff at their own 37 and driving all the way to the Strong 14 before Patrick Cantrell was stopped on fourth-and-one.
After three consecutive penalties pushed the Bulldogs back to their own 3, a fumble on third down left them facing fourth-and 23 at their own 1 yard line.
Woodlawn took over at the Strong 36 following the punt and drove to the Bulldog 9 before coming up short on fourth down.
That would be the turning point in the game as Strong’s speed and athleticism began to take over.
Heard hit William Smith for a 15-yard completion for the Bulldogs’ first first down of the game. Then, facing third-and-13 at their own 23, Heard and Smith collided in the backfield. But Smith managed to pull in the handoff and turn the busted play into a 37-yard gain to the Woodlawn 40.
Six plays later, facing fourth-and-one at the Woodlawn 19, Heard found the corner to score the game’s first touchdown with 6:25 left in the second quarter. The two-point conversion was stuffed, leaving the Dogs with a 6-0 lead.
Strong would go on to score on its next two possessions in the second quarter with Heard ending an eight-play, 49-yard drive with a 1-yard run, and then finding Jeremy Meshell behind the secondary for a 26-yard touchdown pass with just 15.4 seconds left. Both conversion attempts were stopped, leaving the Bulldogs with an 18-0 lead at halftime.
Woodlawn tried an onside kick to start the second half, but the ball failed to go 10 yards, giving Strong possession at the Bears’ 40. Heard hit Meshell for a 21-yard gain on the first play and six plays later, Heard punched it in from one yard out, making it 24-0 after Woodlawn stopped yet another two-point conversion.
Strong would not have far to go on its next two drives after the Bears failed to convert on two fourth-down situations.
Antonio Green scored on a one-play, 28-yard drive. Next, Heard fired a 5-yard touchdown pass to Ki-Jana Robinson to invoke the mercy rule with 4:27 left in the third quarter. Jamarian Ford made the point-after kicks on both scores.
Woodlawn Coach Ray Sessions said after the game that his 17 guys simply wore down going up against Strong’s huge offensive and defensive line and trying to put a lid on the Bulldgo’s deep arsenal of athletes. The Bulldogs have five players listed at 290 pounds or larger.
Heard finished the game completing 7-of-10 passes for 135 yards. He also rushed seven times for 32 yards.
Woodlawn saw some progress with its new spread offense as the Bears established a running game for the first time. Cantrell finished with 73 yards on 18 carries to lead all rushers.
The Bears fell to 0-5 on the year and 0-4 in 8-2A conference play with the loss. Strong improved to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in league play.