Bulldogs ready for playoffs with victory
A shiny 6-2 regular season is nice, but for the perennially tough Dove Creek Bulldogs football team, postseason success is always the ultimate goal.
Kicking off what they hope will be a long playoff run, the Bulldogs beat the Sangre de Cristo Thunderbirds in a cross-league matchup, 30-20, in Dove Creek on Saturday, Oct. 26.
Throughout a scoreless first quarter, the Bulldogs defense dictated play as junior Chance Randolph recovered a fumble on the game’s third play. Senior Dillon Daves also played a key role, recording several tackles and a sack.
After an interception by Bulldogs’ junior Jay Daves to begin the second quarter, Dove Creek’s offense found its rhythm, scoring on a 49-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Jordan Ernst to senior Nick Jones with 10:16 to go in the second quarter.
“It was a good ball from Jordy,” said Jones. “I thought the guy was closer than he was. I had room, and I was able to put a move on him.”
Leading 8-0 after a two-point conversion, the Bulldogs defense forced their third turnover of the game when junior Jay Daves knocked a the ball free of a Thunderbirds’ ball carrier and Nick Jones jumped on the loose ball.
“One of the drills we installed this week, we really pull at the ball and try to get hats on the ball,” said Bulldogs’ head coach Shane Baughman. “I think it paid off. Those turnovers were huge.”
Although the Bulldogs’ offense would stall following the turnover, the team eventually scored its second touchdown of the game with 4:48 to go in the second quarter on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Ernst.
After successful two-point conversion on a pass from Ernst to Dillon Daves, the Bulldogs pulled ahead 16-0, and the score would remain that way until halftime.
Beginning the second half with a bang, the Bulldogs extended their lead to 24-0 with 10:37 to go in the third quarter, after a 50-yard touchdown run by Randolph on a sweep around the right side and a run into the end zone by Ernst on the two-point conversion.
“We had good blocking,” said Randolph of his long touchdown run.
For the remainder of the third quarter, both offenses struggled, and entering the fourth quarter with a 24-0 lead, the Bulldogs looked comfortable.
The comfort would not last however, as Sangre de Cristo scored on a 27-yard pass play from Kyle Beiriger to Troy Fritz, a 15-yard touchdown pass from Beiriger to Jacob Mortensen and a 12-yard touchdown pass from Beiriger to Victor Enriquez to cut the Bulldogs lead to 24-20 with 4:38 to go in the game.
“I think a lot of mental mistakes hurt us,” said Randolph of the Thunderbirds’ late run.
“We got a little scare towards the end,” added Ernst.
The scare would not last however, as Jones scored on a 59-yard reverse with 4:04 to put the Bulldogs ahead 30-20 with 4:04 left. The score would remain the same until the game’s conclusion.
“We had great blocks on the end,” said Jones of his long run. “I had just enough room to get through.”
With the win, the Bulldogs qualified for the Colorado 8-man playoffs, which they will enter seeded eighth. The team’s first playoff game will take place in Dove Creek on Nov. 2 against ninth seeded Sanford High School.
“To win is our goal,” said Baughman. “Every team is zero and zero at this point. We’re just hoping to take things one at a time.”
Sam Green/Cortez Journal