It was apparent, based on previous games played this season that the Bulldogs would be facing one of the South’s most potent running team. The Cowboys from Chaparral High School had mustered over 400 yards on the ground their last two games led by their all-everything running back Antonio Thomas. Assistant Coach Scott Woods Bulldog defense bent under the attack but did not break as the Bulldogs went on to win 28-25. Thomas had his usual 200+ yards but the Bulldogs shut down the other Cowboy runners.
The Bulldogs won the toss and chose to receive. The ‘Dawgs could not move the ball and were forced into a punt. The Cowboys started their first drive from their 40 yard line. Thomas ripped off 11 yards on his first carry giving the Cowboy a first and ten in Bulldog territory. The Bulldogs defense held aided by a motion penalty forcing a Cowboy punt. The Bulldogs began their second possession from their own 17 yard line. Tyson Teerlink’s 14 yard run gave the Bulldogs a first down on the 31 yard line. The ‘Dawgs sputtered and had to punt to the Cowboys. Thomas took the punt from his 30 and returned it to the 50 yard line. Nine running plays later the Cowboys were facing a fourth and two from the ‘Dawgs 17 yard line as the clock ran out in the first period. The Cowboys drive to this point ate up almost six minutes of the clock.
Two plays later Thomas stood in the end zone untouched for six points. The point after failed. The Cowboys kickoff was called a touchback giving the ‘Dawgs a first and ten from their own 20 yard line. The Bulldogs led by tailback Dee Bowler drove to a first down and goal on the Cowboys four yard line. Bowler had 33 yards in the drive to this point. Three plays later the ‘Dawgs faced a fourth and goal from the four. Head Coach Chris Sawyers called a time out to assess the next play. Bowler went off tackle and was stopped at the one yard line turning the ball over to the Cowboys. The Bulldogs had nothing to show for a six minute drive. The Cowboys lost a half yard on their first play setting up a costly mistake by the Cowboys coaching staff. Instead of handing the ball to Thomas to give them running room, the Cowboys attempted to surprise the ‘Dawgs with a quick drop pass over the middle. Bowler stepped in at the four for an interception and six points. The extra point from Teerlink went wide. Momentum seemed to shift to the Bulldogs. Cowboy Thomas brought back the ensuing kickoff to his 25 yard line. Three Thomas running plays later it was Bulldog ball as Thomas fumbled and Q.B. Garrett Leavitt recovered on the 42 yard line. Bulldog Christian Aquirre gained nine yards on an end around setting up second and one. Bowler was stopped for a two yard loss. Bowler was stripped of the ball on the next play giving the Cowboys a first and ten from their own 26 with 3:29 left in the half. The momentum had shifted again. Nine plays later, Q.B. Jason Jonshun hit pay dirt on a disputed call with 9.3 seconds remaining in the half. The Bulldog sideline screamed to the referees that Jonshun was held short of the goal line. The two point conversion failed. The Cowboys went into their locker room with a 12-6 lead after one half of play.
The kickoff by the ‘Dawgs to begin the second half was taken by Thomas on his 30 yard line and brought back to the Bulldogs 47. The Cowboys were called for two consecutive penalties moving the ball back to their 29 yard line. Thomas and Jonshun alternated running plays setting up a fourth and three for the Cowboys. The Bulldog defense stiffened and held giving the ‘Dawgs a first down on their 34 yard line. Bowler gained 12 yards up the middle setting up a 39 yard gain by Leavitt on a Q.B. keeper to the Cowboys 10 yard line. Leavitt ran for five and Bowler finished off the drive tying the game at 12-12. Leavitt added two more points on a keeper giving the Bulldogs their first lead of the game at 14-12. The Bulldogs caught the Cowboys napping on the kickoff as C.J. Miller recovered giving the ‘Dawgs first and ten from the Cowboys 36 yard line. The Bulldogs could not take advantage and were forced to punt. Leavitt’s kick went only 15 yards to the Cowboys 27 yard line. Thomas ran for 11 yards on two plays giving the Cowboys a first down. Thomas was hit hard on his next run and fumbled the ball. Lineman Jared Walther recovered for the Bulldogs. Bowler ran for 13 yards on three carries setting up a first and ten at the Cowboys 23 yard line as time expired.
The fourth quarter was a barn burner as both teams had multiple possessions. Leavitt gained 10 yards but a holding penalty set the Bulldogs back to the 33 yard line. Leavitt hit Dallen Carnesecca for 11 yards before hitting Dillon Graves over the middle for 22 yards and a Bulldog touchdown. Bowler ran it over for two important points. The Bulldogs led 22-12 with 9:05 minutes remaining in the game. The Cowboys Thomas brought the kickoff back to their 27 yard line. It took about 15 seconds for Thomas to change the momentum of the game back to the Cowboys as he weaved through the Bulldog defense for 73 yards and a touchdown. The two point conversion failed. The score stood at 22-18 with 8:33 minutes remaining. The Cowboys kickoff was bobbled by the Bulldogs but was recovered on the 18 yard line. Bowler brought the Bulldog faithful to their feet dragging Cowboys on a 32 yard jaunt up the middle. Bowler fumbled as he hit the turf and the Cowboys had a first down on the 49 yard line. Jonshun gained 10 yards and a first and ten from the ‘Dawgs 39. Two penalties on the Cowboys pushed the ball back to their 45 yard marker. Thomas ripped off 15 yards for a first on the Bulldogs 40 yard line. Thomas got 19 yards more up the middle. Thomas finished the drive with a 17 yard scamper going into the end zone untouched. The P.A.T was good giving the Cowboys the lead at 25-22 with 4:48 minutes remaining. The Bulldogs started their next possession on their 38 yard line. Tailback Bowler seeming to atone for his fumble smashed through the Cowboy defense for 11 hard fought yards to the 49. He then went 22 yards on a swing pass to the Cowboys 32 yard line. Chris Erickson gave Bowler a breather and went off tackle for 7 yards. Bowler ran for two more hard yards before Leavitt took the ball to the eight on a keeper. It was all Bowler from their as he barreled into the end zone for six giving the Bulldogs the lead at 28-25. The two point conversion failed with 1:01 minutes remaining. The Cowboys bobbled the kickoff on their 21 yard line. They needed to go 79 yards in less than one minute to win the game. Two incomplete passes and a 19 yard scamper by Jonshun gave the Cowboys hope and first down on their 40 yard line. Those hopes were dashed two plays later as Thomas fumbled and Andrew Anderson recovered for the Bulldogs on their 36 yard line. Bowler went up the middle for 18 yards before dropping on the Cowboys 18 yard line. Leavitt took a knee as the game ended. The Bulldogs earned a hard fought win 28-25. Bowler led the Bulldogs with 120 yards on the ground. Leavitt went 104 yards through the air on 7-11 pass completions. The Bulldogs lost Hunter Woods too an ankle injury and Teerlink to a concussion in the first half. “I told Dee after his last fumble he needed to take the game on his shoulders and he did. We seemed to have left our game on the bus in the first half. We didn’t play well,” said Coach Sawyers. “I didn’t change anything (game plan} in the second half and we executed,” added Sawyers. Bulldog defensive coach Woods added,” We called for a fake blitz on the one and they bit as Dee stepped in for the interception and T.D.” The Bulldogs record stands at 4-1 and 1-0 in 1-A Sunrise division play. The Bulldogs will host Boulder City next Friday. The Eagles beat Desert Pines 25 -16 Friday evening. The Eagles will come in with a 5-0 record including 1-0 in League play.