The Altus Bulldogs traveled to Vernon, Texas on Friday night and came away with the 44-21 victory. What a way to get the 2015 season started off – the way it should be, on the winning side of things.
Mistakes made in kick returns and punt returns were costly for the Bulldogs early on as Vernon was able to capitalize on those mistakes and quickly turned them into Vernon Lion points.
These errors also overshadowed a fast start by the Bulldogs’ offense. Running back, Taven Birdow #33, got the first carry of the season and bust through the line for an eight-yard gain. For the game, Birdow was the game’s leading rusher with 166 yards on 20 attempts. On just the third play of the game, a fake handoff to Birdow was followed by quarterback, Jayden Benway’s last second pitch out wide on the right edge to Tito Jones #22. From there, Jones’ natural running ability and breakaway speed saw the Bulldogs take the early first quarter lead, 7-0, after Gabe Barton tacked on the extra point.
Vernon tied it on a defensive gouging run which was aided in large part by some poor tackling by the Bulldogs. The conversion was good for the Lions making the score 8-7 Vernon.
Vernon again was the beneficiary of a Bulldog’s miscue and punched in another score off of a rollout pass, and again the Bulldogs failed to tackle very well. Vernon lead 15-7.
Birdow, this time struck paydirt for the boys in blue, as he scampered 25 yards for the score. The two point conversion failed, and the Bulldogs were down 15-13.
The Bulldogs punched another one in, and after the extra point, the score was no 20-15 at the half.
With four minutes left in the third quarter, the Bulldogs came up with an amazing interception,hauled in off of the Vernon receiver’s deflection, and secured right before the ball hit the turf.
With just under two minutes left in the third quarter, Taven Birdow again got loose and punched in a 35-yard score, pushing the lead for Altus to 27-15.
Gabe Barton kicked another high onsides kick on the kickoff after his converted extra point. This time a hooking wobble was discernible, and it kept tailing away from the receiver and ultimately it was misplayed after chasing down the bouncing ball. Altus managed to get him to the ground at the Vernon 13 yard line.
It took Vernon two plays to go backwards to the five yard line. From there, the Lions were forced to punt, and both teams exchanged a couple of punts and the third quarter closed withe the Bulldogs up 27-15.
At near the 10 minute mark left in the game, Deante Harris, #42, scored from three yards out, and after Barton’s added point, the score was 34-15. With seven minutes to go in the game, Benway hit #3 Sha’Quan French for a touchdown pass, and French did most of the work on that one. He made some midfield run decisions that were as dynamic as they were effective. Barton tacked on the extra point making it a 41-15 lead, and would be the last points Altus would get.
Vernon managed another score against a reserve defense with just over a minute left to end the scoring with a Bulldog victory, 41-22.
This game had a familiar look to it. Both teams had some early successes, and both made mistakes that were costly. However, it didn’t take long for Reed’s flexbone system to take control of the game’s tempo and the Bulldog’s did a great job of sustaining lengthy time-killing drives. The Vernon Lion defense had been on the field a long time in that first half.
That combined with knowing that defensive coordinator, Todd Vargas, was in the visitor’s locker room plotting against them must have worn them out.
Altus made the all-to-common halftime adjustments, and honestly looked like a quicker, fresher team in the second half. Vernon was stuffed early on in that second half and never really mounted much of an attack.
Up next for the Bulldogs is homecoming week. It’s the home opener, and let’s just be real clear here: The opponent is Anadarko. The Warriors have lost only three games in the last five seasons. They graduated 18 seniors off of last year’s team. However, the main components of their offensive line is intact and they plan on using their new quarterback’s athleticism to work behind that line. So, anytime I hear homecoming or mums or escorts or kings and queens this week, I will be reminded of a good thing to remember if you are the part of this week’s activities that is responsible for playing or coaching the football aspects of next Friday’s events.
This week will be filled with every distraction possible for our boys in blue. Do your part to minimize those distractions please. Anadarko is no joke.
GO BULLDOGS !! 1-0