Fulton shuts out Bearden in home opener

Bearden was overwhelmed Friday by a Fulton team that certainly looked like the defending state champs.

The Falcons’ efficient offense and powerful defense used big plays on both sides of the ball to knock the Bulldogs out early and pull away for a 52-0 win.

Bearden’s offense struggled to get anything going all night. The Falcons constantly pressured Bearden quarterback Xavier Johnson – allowing only 78 yards through the air – and shut down the Bulldogs’ ground game, limiting them to 22 total rushing yards.

“I don’t think we ever got a good rhythm like we would like and offense is all about rhythm,” Bearden coach Brad Taylor said. “Give some credit to Fulton; they have a very fast defense.”

Rhythm wasn’t the only thing slowing the Bulldogs (0-2) down either. Injuries and turnovers also set Bearden back, and the Falcons (2-0) delivered several bone-crushing hits on defense.

“We’ve got a couple of guys banged up and some guys just not feeling well, but that’s no excuse; you have to come prepared for a team like Fulton,” Coach Taylor said.

Bearden fumbled twice, one of which was in the opening two minutes of the game. The Bulldogs had recovered an onside pooch kick to start the game, and the offense had picked up a first down before senior tailback Malachi Horton fumbled. It was scooped up by Fulton speedster Xavier Hawkins, who returned it 79 yards for a touchdown.

Bearden’s high points included a solid all around night for fullback and inside linebacker Griffin DeLong, who left the game in the second half with an injury, and an interception from defensive back Blake Ironside.

“That was a nice play by Blake, but after those kind of momentum changing plays, we need to be able to put some points on the board,” Coach Taylor said. “Griffin is a heck of a ball player and we need more players to step up on defense like he did, but he got a little roughed up tonight, and hopefully he will be better next week for Heritage.”

Bearden hosts Heritage (0-1) on Friday in the District 4-AAA opener for both teams.