Bulldogs cruise past rival Lions in season opener

Geraldine senior quarterback D.J. Graham completed 5-of-8 passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday's win over 

GERALDINE — The purple reign continues in the Battle of Skirum Creek.

Five different players found the end zone for Class 3A, No. 9 Geraldine as it rolled to a 49-13 whipping of Crossville on Saturday night at Coolidge Isbell Field in the 98th renewal of the Battle of Skirum Creek. It was the 2019 season opener for both squads.

The Bulldogs won their third straight in the rivalry and improved to 17-4 against Crossville since 1999, when they ended the Lions’ five-game winning streak. Thirteen of the 17 victories have been by double figures.

Geraldine hasn’t lost to the Lions at Coolidge Isbell Field since 1997. Crossville leads the all-time series 56-39-3.

Following a CHS punt, the Bulldogs capitalized on good field position to score on their first drive of the season.

They covered 42 yards in eight plays, with DJ Graham tossing a 3-yard touchdown pass to Bo Harper with 8:06 left in the first period. Jose Garcia hit the first of his seven extra points, making it 7-0.

The Lions responded with a 13-play drive that reached Geraldine’s 29-yard line before they lost a fumble. Kyle Thackerson recovered at his 28 with 2:26 left.

Geraldine’s offense converted the turnover into points by marching 72 yards in nine plays, aided by a 15-yard personal foul penalty against CHS.

Freshman Caleb Hall caught a 12-yard pass from Graham and contributed a 14-yard run to the Lions’ 10. Thackerson swept around right end for a 10-yard TD run with 10:51 to go in the second period.

The Bulldogs stretched their lead to 21-0 on their next series by marching 63 yards in seven plays. Crossville committed another personal foul during the drive, which prompted CHS head coach Dusty Darnell to call a timeout to give his defense an attitude adjustment.

Sebastian Totherow had a 17-yard run and Hall contributed a 16-yard run during the series, which ended with Anthony Baldwin crashing into the end zone from the 2 with 5:40 left.

Crossville answered with a 10-play, 80-yard drive featuring the passing of junior quarterback Hunter Haston, who completed 6-of-7 attempts.

Ethan Tully caught three passes during the series, including a 41-yarder that gave the Lions a first-and-goal at the 1. Haston punched it in from there on second-and-goal with 1:22 remaining in the second quarter. Eli Borja’s point-after trimmed it to 21-7.

Geraldine slammed the door on the Lions with a 21-point third quarter that extended its margin to 42-7.

Hall returned the second-half kickoff 78 yards to Crossville’s 2, and the Lions were penalized 1 yard for a late hit. Baldwin scored from the 1 on the first snap of the third quarter. Garcia kicked it to 28-7.

Geraldine forced the Lions to punt from their 13 on the next series, and its offense took over at the CHS 32. The Bulldogs scored in four plays, with Totherow finding the end zone from the 6 with 8:01 on the clock.

Crossville’s Kolby Lesley returned the kickoff 34 yards, and the Bulldogs were penalized for a personal foul on the return, putting the Lions’ offense in business at the GHS 40.

Haston’s 28-yard pass to Trace Allen gave the Lions a first-and-goal at the 1. On second-and-goal from the 3, Haston dived and stretched the ball across the goal line, but the Bulldogs knocked the ball loose. The officials ruled it a fumble, and Jackson Bearden received credit for the recovery at the 1 with 6:37 to go in the third period.

Darnell argued the play should’ve been a touchdown and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, which allowed Geraldine to start the series at its 16.

Seven plays later, Thackerson made a leaping catch of a Graham pass, broke a tackle and raced 53 yards for a touchdown with 3:07 left. Garcia’s conversion made it 42-7.

Tyler Satterfield scored Geraldine’s final touchdown on a 13-yard run with 11:33 remaining in the fourth period. Garcia kicked it to 49-7.

Crossville scored its second touchdown when Lesley dashed 44 yards to the end zone with 7:05 remaining. The Lions missed the extra point.

Hall led the Bulldogs’ rushing attack with seven carries for 80 yards. Thackerson had six rushes for 55 yards, and Baldwin ran nine times for 53 yards. Geraldine gained 315 yards on the ground.

Graham finished 5-of-8 passing for 105 yards and two scores. Thackerson was his favorite target, closing with three receptions for 85 yards.

Crossville rushed for 129 yards, paced by Lesley with seven carries for 80 yards. Haston was 16-of-27 passing for 163 yards.

Tully had five receptions for 80 yards, and Allen had five catches for 44 yards.

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