After losing last week against Riverheads, the Tazewell High School football team arrived at an early-season crossroads.
Traveling to Nelson Memorial Stadium to play Grundy, a place Tazewell hadn’t won at since 2015, Tazewell needed to get back in the win column to have any chance of accomplishing its season goals.
On a rainy Friday evening, the Bulldogs started fast, dealt with an early second-half scare and went on to defeat Grundy 28-14 in a non-district game. The win moved the Bulldogs’ record to 3-3.
Grundy slipped to 2-3.
Tazewell junior running back Kaizon Taylor caught a career high 8 passes and scored two touchdowns and the Tazewell defense held the Golden Wave to only 264 yards of offense on 53 plays.
“We needed this win for playoff points,” Tazewell coach J’me Harris said. “Just a big win for us.”
The Bulldogs started the game like a firecracker, mainly behind the explosive play of Kaizon Taylor. After the Tazewell defense forced a punt on the Golden Wave’s first series, the do-it-all junior caught a swing pass from sophomore QB Carter Creasy and bullied his way 29-yards into the end zone for Tazewell’s first score. Freshman Zephyr Dagout added the extra-point kick and Tazewell led 7-0.
“He’s a special athlete,” Coach Harris said about Taylor. “We’re glad he plays for us. He’s just one of those guys who has the ability to score any time he touches the ball.”
Grundy quickly answered Tazewell’s score when running back Ian Scammell sprinted 39 yards to the end zone for a Golden Wave touchdown. After Scammell successful two-point conversion, Grundy took an 8-7 lead.
After a 32-yard pass from Creasy to Cassius Harris placed the ball at the Grundy 1-yard line, Tazewell looked like they would take the lead into halftime. But, on the last play of the first half, the Golden Wave defense tackled Creasy in the backfield as time expired.
Tazewell scored on their first drive of the second half, capping off a 9 play, 65-yard drive with a 19-yard pass from Creasy to Harris. The extra point failed and Tazewell led 13-8.
The Golden Wave marched right down the field in response, driving 60 yards on 11 rushing plays. Scammel finished off the drive with a TD plunge to put Grundy up 14-13. The two-point conversion failed.
On their next drive, the Bulldogs marched 65-yards in 13 plays for the go-ahead touchdown. Kaizon Taylor converted a fourth and short from the Grundy three-yard line to keep the drive alive. On the next play, Taylor scored from one-yard out for his second touchdown of the night. Creasy hit Logan McDonald in the back of the end zone for the two-point conversion and the Bulldogs stretched their lead to 21-14.
On the ensuing kickoff, Tazewell’s Luke Childress recovered a fumble and the Bulldogs took over possession at the Grundy 42-yard line. Four plays later, Creasy found McDonald wide open in the middle of the field for a 38-yard touchdown. Dagout kicked the extra-point and Tazewell had a 28-14 lead with seven minutes remaining.
“The fumble on the kickoff was the play of the game for us,” Harris said.
Tazewell’s defense stopped Grundy on their final possession and the Bulldog offense was able to run out the clock and secure the victory.
Tazewell finished with 381 yards in offense on 56 plays.
Carter Creasy finished 20 of 31 passing for 303 yards and three touchdowns. It was the sixth time in the sophomore’s career that he has thrown for more than 300 yards.
Cassius Harris led the Bulldogs with 149 yards on 6 catches and a touchdown. He also had two carries for 30 yards.
Kaizon Taylor had 8 receptions for 88 yards and added 12 rushing yards.
Logan McDonald had 3 receptions for 55 yards and a score.
Tazewell held a Grundy offense that had scored 124 points in their previous two games to 14 points. Grundy had zero passing yards on 7 attempts and 264 rushing yards on 46 attempts.
“We’re just improving little by little,” Harris said.
Kaizon Taylor led the defense with 9 ½ tackles. Brock Alley had 8 ½ tackles from his linebacker position. Ricky Compton and Jashon Taylor each added a tackle for loss.
Next up for the Bulldogs, is the Back Yard Brawl at Ernie Hicks Stadium.