Bulldogs make a statement
Dove Creek runs to 50-36 win over Sargent High
Judging from the looks on the faces of the players prior to kickoff, the Bulldogs were out to send a message. Send a message they did.
Playing at home against the previously undefeated Sargent Farmers on Sept. 6, Dove Creek performed impressively, registering a 56-36 victory and serving notice to the rest of the state that Bulldogs’ football remains as strong as ever.
Beginning the game in fine fashion, the Bulldogs’ defense quickly forced a Farmers’ punt, and after taking over at the Sargent 37, the home team’s offense went to work. After Bulldogs’ quarterback Jordan Ernst connected with receiver Nick Jones for a 20-yard gain on a critical 3rd down play, the Bulldogs eventually moved the ball to the Farmers’ 2-yard line.
From there, Chance Randolph scored on a 2-yard touchdown run, which, after a successful 2-point conversion, put the Bulldogs ahead 8-0.
After a series of unsuccessful drives from both offenses, the Farmers finally got something going, scoring on a 73-yard option run and successive 2-point conversion by talented quarterback, Nate Ramirez, to tie the game at 8-8.
“Ramirez is a good player,” said head coach Shane Baughman. “He’s a senior, he’s quick and he’s strong. What it looked like to me from the sidelines is that our linebackers forgot to cover the pitch on that play.”
On the Bulldogs’ next possession, the offense began clicking. After a 23-yard run by Ernst to open the second quarter, the Bulldogs’ scored for the second time when Randolph took a handoff from Ernst, started left, cut back right, and ran the ball in from 14 yards out to put the Bulldogs ahead 16-8 with 11:09 to go in the second quarter.
“We had great blocking tonight,” said Randolph. “On that run, everyone did a great job of sustaining their blocks, and I was able to score.”
After Sargent narrowed the gap to 16-14 on a 32 yard touchdown run by Ramirez, Dove Creek struck again. Following a long kick return by the Bulldogs’ Nick Jones and a nice pass from Ernst to Colin Hobbs, Randolph scored from 7 yards out on a sweep to the right, putting the Bulldogs up 24-14 with 6:58 to go in the 2nd quarter.
Following a Farmers’ score on the next possession that cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 24-20, Dove Creek’s kick return team produced one of the most exciting plays of the night.
After the Bulldog’s return man, Jones, fielded the ball deep in Dove Creek territory, the talented senior started up field, cut hard to the left, made a defender miss, cut back to the right and raced down the right sideline for the score to put the Bulldogs’ ahead 30-20.
“It wasn’t really me,” said a modest Jones, describing the play. “I had great blocks the entire way.”
After Sargent returned the subsequent kickoff for a touchdown to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 30-28 entering the half, Dove Creek made some halftime adjustments and came out fired up to begin the second half.
Beginning what would be a pattern for the rest of the game, the Bulldogs handed the ball to Randolph time and time again and eventually, the talented running back scored from 6 yards out to put the home team ahead 36-28.
The Farmers were not done, however, and on their subsequent offensive possession, Ramirez struck again, scoring from 8 yards out. After Ramirez broke multiple Bulldogs’ tackles in route to a successful 2-point conversion, the score was tied, 36-36 with 7:06 to go and it appeared as if Dove Creek was in for a fight.
The Bulldogs’ running game took over, however, and after a 53-yard touchdown run by Randolph and a 1-yard scoring run by Ernst, the home team’s lead was 50-36 and the game was all but over.
“We decided to go ahead and start running the ball more and try to wear them out,” explained Baughman. “The guys were saying, ‘Hey, we can move these guys out,’ and that’s what we did.”
“We just fired out,” said Bulldogs’ lineman Spencer Gatlin, describing what allowed the Dove Creek running game to be so successful. “Last week, we weren’t really firing out. We fixed it in practice, came out today and did a good job.”
Overall for the Bulldogs, Ernst led the team in passing with 128 yards and one touchdown, Randolph led the team in rushing with 226 yards and five touchdowns, and Case Baughman led the team in receiving with 44 yards and a touchdown. Jones led the team in tackles with 12.
While Bulldogs’ players and coaches were undoubtedly pleased with their victory, team members were quick to point out that there is still work to be done.
“We need to improve on that pass defense a little bit,” Baughman said. “We have to improve on stopping that option. We need to improve on special teams a little bit. Overall though, this was a big win for us. The team grew tonight.”
Looking to stretch their winning streak to 3 games, the Bulldogs will next travel to face Elbert High School on Sept. 13.