Bluejays bitten by Bulldogs

Mancos has 2-game football winning streak snapped at Dove Creek

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Tyler Ebberts’ pick-6 in the second quarter was the straw that broke the camel’s back last Friday in Dove Creek.

The camel’s back in this instance was the Mancos Bluejays.

With Dove Creek nursing an 8-0 lead, Ebberts’ interception and touchdown doubled the Bulldogs advantage at 16-0.

From there, the rout was on. Dove Creek pulled away for a 52-0 romp on homecoming night in eight-man football action.

“Our kids kind of started slow. But credit to Mancos. They had a game plan coming in that took us awhile to adjust to,” Bulldogs coach Shane Baughman said. “Our kids responded and settled down, and started playing a little better.”

Mancos (3-3, 2-1 8-man Western League) had its two-game winning streak snapped.

“We threw the interception the first half and that seemed to take the wind out of us,” first-year Bluejays coach Adam Priestly said. “We couldn’t recover in the second half.”

Dove Creek (No. 7 Denver Post; 4-1, 2-0 8-man WL) added another TD and 2-point conversion to lead 24-0 at halftime.

The Bulldogs continued their offensive explosion in the third quarter with 21 points. Dove Creek led 45-0 going into the fourth quarter before adding one more touchdown and extra-point for the final margin.

A stout Bulldogs defense held league leading Mancos rusher Branson Mitchell to 91 yards on 24 carries. Dove Creek forced three turnovers.

“Our goal this year is just to get better every week,” Baughman said. “We got some new kids in different positions that didn’t play last year. If we can improve every week, then we can peak at the end of the season. We started with the basics and now we’re into more technical stuff.”

Dalton Randolph rushed t21 times for 125 yards and accounted for four Dove Creek TDs. Cole Baughman ran for 86 yards on 10 carries and tallied 12 tackles on defense. Ebberts recorded a game-high 15 tackles to go with his interception.

For Mancos, it’s back to the drawing board, as the offense struggled.

“Our boys came out and did defensively what they’re expected to do first half,” Priestly said. “Offensively, we were slow playing against a bunch of good boys from Dove Creek. There’s some things we need to work on and come together as a team.”

The Bluejays out-scored their opponents 94-22 during their two-game win streak before Friday.

“I’ve been proud of my boys so far. With this group of boys, they’re going to surprise some people. They have the talent and the tools, it’s just trying to get it to all come together,” Priestly said.

Only two games remain in the 8-man regular season. Dove Creek is tied atop the WL standings with Norwood. But the Bulldogs remain focused on their road game at Nucla (0-5, 0-2 8-man WL) Friday at 7 p.m.

“Our kids are pretty excited for this last part of the year. Our kids are fired up,” coach Baughman said. “Our kids are pretty confident going in this Friday night. But we can’t be too confident and get too big of heads. That’s when a team can sneak up on you. We want them to focus on the task at hand with Nucla.”

Norwood (No. 5; 4-1, 2-0 8-man WL) is Mancos’ homecoming opponent Friday night at 7 p.m.

“Defensively, we got to be able to tackle. We need to be able to put ourselves where we’re successful,” Priestly said. “Norwood has opened up their playbook more. They pass more. We need to be able to defend the pass.”

The biggest adjustment for Mancos lies on the other side of the ball, though.

“Offensively, we need to block the best we ever have to be successful. Norwood is an excellent football team,” Priestly said. “We need to just keep working hard to get to the caliber of their team. I think our boys are seeing what it takes in work ethic to get there. I’m looking forward to this game, to see if we can play with a good team and play spoilers to Norwood. We have a huge challenge ahead of us.”

Mancos is looking to finish strong and make the postseason.

“I’m proud of my boys’ effort and dedication,” Priestly said. “Hopefully, we get it all put together for the crossover game to get in the playoffs. I think we can get in the playoffs, if we play well. I think we can do it.”