Dobyns-Bennett's Lane Taylor closes in on a Campbell County ball carrier during the game at J. Fred Johnson Stadium Friday night. David Grace photo.
KINGSPORT — The lessons of a 1-3 start were taken to heart by Dobyns- Bennett.
After struggling against a very difficult early-season schedule, the Indians rolled to their fifth consecutive win Friday night when they smacked visiting Campbell County 38-3 in a Big East Conference matchup at J. Fred Johnson Stadium.
The win clinched home-field advantage for the Tribe (6-3, 4-1) when the playoffs begin in two weeks.
“These kids have continued to believe and continued to get better like we said they would,’’ said D-B coach Graham Clark. “They’ve bounced back from the tough start by continuing to work hard and learning to have fun playing the game.’’
Once again, freshman Chris Sensabaugh was the hammer the D-B offense used to subdue the pesky Cougars.
Sensabaugh, pounding inside and streaking to the outside, scored his 10th and 11th touchdowns of the season, gaining 132 yards on 14 carries.
The Indians set the tone on the opening drive. Marching 65 yards in 12 plays, D-B consumed almost eight minutes of game time before Craig Mitcham kicked a 23-yard field goal to put the Tribe on top 3-0.
Campbell County subsequently was forced to punt on its first possession. The kick hit a D-B player behind the line of scrimmage and the Indians, after a disputed return of the blocked punt by the Cougars, took over on the Campbell 21-yard line.
Sensabaugh ran off left tackle, rumbling through the Cougar defense, and roared into the end zone for the 21-yard TD.
Lane Dukart blocked a second Campbell County punt on the next possession and D-B was in business again.
A six-play drive was capped by Lane Taylor’s 6-yard touchdown run and D-B was on top 17-0.
Justin Young kicked a 35-yard field goal with 47 seconds to go in the half to allow the Cougars (4-5, 2-3) to narrow the deficit to 17-3.
Sensabaugh scored from 30 yards out with 7:58 to go in the third quarter, however, and the Indians were firmly back in control, 24-3.
When Sensabaugh went to the bench after being poked in the eye, Justin Sylvester came in at tailback.
Sylvester scored on a dazzling 28-yard run with no time left on the clock in the third quarter to push to the margin to 31-3 and added a 4-yard scamper with 6:40 to go in the game as the Indians sealed the deal with a 38-3 lead.
“It felt good to get in the game and run the ball,’’ Sylvester said. “The line really opened some great holes for me tonight.’’
That line play was the difference in the contest.
“We wanted to play physical tonight,’’ said D-B senior guard Jordan Roop. “Campbell County is a good football team and we just had to establish our play on the line of scrimmage.’’
After an uncharacteristic start to the season, the Indians have found their way.
The D-B defense smothered the Cougars’ offense, holding Campbell County to 42 yards rushing and 78 yards total offense.
“We learned some valuable lessons in those losses,’’ said senior lineman Will Clark. “We can’t just come out on the field and waltz to a win because we’re D-B. We have to earn those victories.
“I think we’re doing that right now and it feels pretty good.’’
Sylvester finished with 55 yards on five carries while Taylor added 49 yards on six rushes. He also had two receptions for 28 yards.
D-B hosts rival Science Hill next Friday in the regular-season finale.