With a 28-0 win over the 3A No. 7 Geraldine Bulldogs, Paul Benefield’s Fyffe Red Devils won their 39th regular season game in a row.
The defending 2A state champions opened its 2019 campaign with a visit to their DeKalb County rival. After a slow start with missed opportunities, the Red Devils found a way to take care of business against the Bulldogs behind sophomore quarterback Zach Pyron.
On the opening drive for Class 2A’s No. 1 ranked team, Pyron led the offense on a 70-yard touchdown drive. A 37-yard pass from Pyron to Brody Dalton set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Kyle Dukes two plays later. An extra point by Dalton put Fyffe ahead of the Bulldogs 7-0 with 9:28 remaining in the first quarter. Dalton converted 4-of-4 PATs.
Both defenses buckled down from that point. After a series of punts, the Bulldogs fell short of a fourth down conversion with 5:32 left in the opening half. The Red Devils took advantage and marched 80 yards in 12 plays to take a 14-0 halftime lead on a 4-yard rumble into the endzone by Pyron.
To open the second half, the Bulldogs were stopped a second time on fourth down at Fyffe’s 35 yard line. The Red Devils again took advantage with Pyron leading the way — he had runs of 2, 4, 9, 15, 5, and 3 yards before capping the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run at the 2:08 mark in the third quarter to widen the margin 21-0.
Two plays later, Pyron intercepted Geraldine quarterback DJ Graham on the second play of the Bulldogs’ offensive drive.
With a little more than 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Red Devils capitalized on Geraldine’s turnover and sealed the victory on a 20-yard touchdown burst from running back Ike Rowell.
Benefield said he was surprised at how well his young team played against the top-10 Bulldogs. Fyffe only has four seniors on the roster, only one of which starts on offense. While proud of how physical his players looked, Benefield said there are still things to work on if his team hopes to defend its title.
“I was really pleasantly surprised,” Benefield said. “Our defense stepped up and played better tonight. They bent a little bit, you know, but they didn’t break. Really proud of our defense. We just did enough offensively to give ourselves a little space. I’m really proud of all my guys. I’m kindly surprised at the margin of victory here.
“We put a touchdown up there, then dropped another touchdown,” he continued. “So, we could’ve been up a little more, but I thought we played real physical.
“Conditioning is one thing,” Benefield said when asked about areas of improvement after week one. “We had a couple guys go down with cramps. But we’ve just got to get better everywhere.”
While Fyffe begins its title defense at 1-0, Geraldine falls to 1-1 on the season. The Bulldogs have now lost six in a row to Fyffe. The last time Geraldine beat the Red Devils was in 2013 by a score of 20-14.