Langston Hughes broke open a tight game with three third-quarter scores to cruise over visiting Rockdale County 34-0 on Friday night.

A Robert Saunders 58-yard punt return served as the only scoring through a first half where neither team gained much offensive traction.

Hughes had put up 35 and 37 points in its previous two games but could muster only one drive inside Rockdale County territory before a late punt gave the Panthers the ball at the Rockdale County 43.

The Bulldogs’ defense also bottled up Hughes tailback Keion Davis, who had run for nearly 600 yards in the Panthers’ first three games.

Davis carried for 28 yards on nine rushes in the first half, but he was not needed much after the Panthers broke the game open.

After halftime Hughes found its groove and capitalized on excellent field position from its defense and special teams.

“We had a lot of missed assignments early on,” Hughes coach Willie Cannon said.

“I’m glad we were able to rectify it.”

Saunders scored on a 5-yard run with 9:19 left to play in the third quarter, capping a 67-yard drive to open the second half.

Quarterback Kinan Humphrey went 3-for-3 passing on the drive, including an 18-yard screen pass to Bingo Morton to set up the score.

On the Bulldogs’ next possession D’Andre Walker sacked Zuri Minnifield, forcing a fumble. Defensive lineman Deonte Jackson picked up the loose ball and sneaked into the left corner of the end zone, giving Hughes a 20-0 lead.

Walker forced a second fumble early in the fourth quarter, and Hughes intercepted Minnifield three times.

“The defense was a little embarrassed after giving up passing yards last week,” Cannon said.

“They ran to the ball tonight.”

Hughes stuffed Rockdale deep and then blocked a punt attempt, taking over at the 5-yard line. One play after a Keion Davis touchdown was nullified by a holding penalty, Humphrey found Morton for a 15-yard score.

Emile Sexton capped the scoring with a 40-yard run with 9:27 left to play.

Rockdale started 3-0 by defeating Salem, Heritage and Drew.

Hughes (3-1) has won three consecutive games after an opening-week loss to Creekside.

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