The final score of Saturday’s football game, 28-13, was not indicative of the battle fought between the Del Sol Dragons and the host Virgin Valley Bulldogs. The Dawgs did not have an answer for Daniel Tyus and the Dragons’ double-wing wearing down in the final minutes of the game. Penalties and turnovers continued to haunt the Dawgs throughout the night as they gave the Dragons great field position.
The Dragons took the opening kickoff and marched to the Bulldogs’ 32 yard line before Dawg linebacker Junior Paongo stuffed Tyus for no gain. A pass interference penalty on the Dragons gave the Bulldogs a first and ten from their 47 yard line. The Bulldogs, to the delight of the home crowd, refused to punt on fourth down and surprised the Dragons with a 53 yard touchdown strike from Cody Jones to Josh Bishop. Jones hit Bishop on a crossing pattern 15 yards deep and Bishop took it the rest of the way. Jose Ramos’ kick was good, giving the Dawgs a 7-0 lead seven minutes into the game.
The Dragons began their second possession on their own 44 yard line and marched to the Dawgs 15 yard line where the Dawgs defense stiffened once again. A Bulldog fumble on their 30 yard marker gave possession back to the Dragons as time ran out in the first period. The Bulldogs led 7-0 despite the Dragons controlling the ball for nine and a half minutes to the Dawgs two and a half.
The Dragons ran five straight running plays and scored on Tyus’ 9 yard smash up the middle of the Dawgs defense. The two-point conversion failed, keeping the Dawgs on top 7-6 with approximately 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter. Bishop took the ensuing kickoff from his 35 yard line to midfield but a personal foul moved the ball back to the Dawgs 35 yard line. Three straight Bulldog incompletions and two penalties gave the Dragons a first down on their 49 yard line with 8:47 left on the clock. Paongo again made a huge stop on Tyus giving the Dawgs possession on the 30 yard marker with 4:27 on the first half clock. Two straight incompletions forced a quarterback change by the Dawgs. The move backfired as the Dragons intercepted on the next play giving them possession on the Dawgs 40 yard line. It was all Tyus as the Dragons, aided by a penalty, drove and scored with 16 seconds remaining on the first half clock. The two-point conversion was good giving the Dragons a 14-7 lead at halftime. The Dragons double-wing gave them a huge clock advantage as they held the ball for over ten minutes in the period.
The Bulldogs didn’t waste any time taking the lead back 14-13 to begin the second half as the Dawgs unleashed senior fullback Paongo who ripped off a 33 yard run coupled by a 15 yard face mask penalty giving the Dawgs a first down on the Dragons’ 10 yard line. Paongo finished the drive on two runs off right tackle. Ramos added the extra point. The Dawgs would not see the ball the rest of the period as the Dragons marched downfield on a 10:49 minute drive but could not score as the third period clock wound down.
The Dawgs held again on a huge combined stop by Tony Urias and Paongo. A bad snap forced a Bulldog punt on their next possession giving the Dragons a first down at midfield. Twelve plays late, aided by a big offside penalty, Dragon Ervine Jones scored off right tackle to give the Dragons a 20-13 lead with 3:08 remaining in the game. The Bulldog coaches exhorted their players to stop the all-important two point conversion attempt. Jones took it in increasing the Dragons lead to 22-13. The Bulldogs called a time out to regroup but the Dawgs’ pass attempt on the ensuing play was intercepted giving the Dragons a first down on the Dawgs three yard line. Tyus took it the rest of the way upping the Dragons lead to 28-13. The two point conversion failed.
The game ended shortly thereafter as the Dawgs errant pass was again intercepted by the Dragons. The most glaring stat of the game was possession as the Dragons held the ball for approximately 40 minutes in a 48 minute game. “We did not execute well,” said Bulldog coach Yori Ludvigson. “We let them control the ball. We had wasted opportunities on dropped passes. They continued to burn the clock keeping us off the field. No doubt turnovers and penalties hurt us.”
The Bulldogs record fell to 1-2 while the former Division 1 Dragons stayed perfect at 3-0. The Bulldogs will face winless Rancho High School in a non-league game on Friday, September 19. The Rams are playing as an independent this year to give the school the opportunity to rebuild their program. The Rams lost to Boulder City 32-13 last Friday night.