The Altus Bulldogs scored 22 unanswered points in the second half of their football game against Elk City on Friday night. The Bulldogs won the game 35-14.
The Bulldogs went into the match-up at Elk City knowing they would be playing in a hostile environment. Close to 100 yards of penalties in the first half alone allowed Elk City to move the chains and sustain drives. It was a personal foul infraction type of game.
There were two undefeated records on the line. This made for some intense efforts from both teams. Several plays did not conclude when the whistles were blown. Both teams were mouthing at each other and the late contact between the teams made for many yellow flags on the ground for much of the first half.
The second half was a different story. For the most part, the Bulldogs did a nice job of keeping level heads. In the end, the powerful running game of Bulldogs was too much for the big Elks to handle.
Elk City received a steady diet of the flexbone misdirections led by quarterback Jayden Benway and the swift feet of Taven Birdow.
Birdow unofficially had 219 yards rushing. This gives Birdow 535 yards for the season. By my unofficial tally, this puts Birdow as the second leading rusher in Oklahoma in all classes combined. The 535 yards from Birdow combined with 437 varsity yards as a freshman and the record breaking 1,726 yards his sophomore season puts Taven at 567 yards away from the career mark at Altus.
The current record of 3,265 yards rushing by Raymond Boaz has stood for 61 years (1952-54). If this career record falls to Birdow, he will be in sole possession of every rushing record Altus has. He already possesses the single game record of 327 yards and the single-season record of 1,726 yards.
This is a monumental achievement considering Birdow will not be able to count any of his junior season statistics.
Friday night’s efforts came on some impressive field vision and quick cuts that will put Taven into the second and third levels of the Elk City defense. Last week’s “Bulldogs Of The Week”, the offensive line, put together another brilliant effort Friday night. Elk City had some very large, agile big boys in the trenches for the Altus linemen to handle.
Entering Friday night’s game, Elk City had only allowed an average of 51.5 yards over the first two games. Their defense takes great pride in shutting the run down of any opponent. However, Altus is not the ordinary opponent. The Bulldogs claim class 5A’s third leading rushing attack and a top 10 spot with all classes combined.
On Friday, something had to give. It was the Elk City defense that did the giving.
Jayden Benway was huge in this game. Following an almost disastrous fumble deep in the Bulldogs own territory, Jayden Benway picked off his 4th interception of the season on the first snap of the Elk City possession.
Benway also converted several pass attempts on third downs to keep Bulldog drives alive. Again, the offensive line was the determining factor as they allowed zero sacks, opened big holes for runners and kept their penalties to a minimum.
Gabe Barton did nothing to damage any claim of him being the best kicker in Oklahoma. Barton split the uprights on two first half fields goals and converted all of his extra point attempts. That isn’t an easy task considering the weather front that blew through during the game bringing stiff windy conditions. Barton’s kickoffs were deep and high when coach Reed asked for them. And when the coach wanted it kicked in the end zone, that’s what Barton gave him.
Tito Jones scored twice for the Bulldogs and Jake Vargas got his first touchdown as a Bulldog.
An overall look at Friday night shows the Bulldogs move to 3-0 on another solid effort on the road. The Bulldogs managed to avoid any major injury and now move on the start district play by hosting El Reno next Friday night at The Rock. El Reno comes in fresh off of their first win of the season over Western Heights.
Don’t let the 1-2 start by El Reno fool you. The Indians lost a heartbreak to undefeated Woodward 34-27 in overtime. In week one, El Reno lost to perennial power, Carl Albert, 35-19. Carl Albert is 2-1 including a win over Duncan, 59-34. Carl Albert’s only loss was to Midwest City 28-21.
This means that the Bulldogs need to be focused on a very dangerous opponent this week.
GO BULLDOGS !!
Reach Brad Gilbert
@482-1221 ext. 2076