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’Dawgs bite hard in win

The Bearden Bulldogs, in their season opener Friday, Aug. 18, against Cumberland County’s outmanned Jets, found themselves up 34-0 at the half; and a stingy Bulldog defense had held the Jets to just 29 yards total offense all night as Jets quarterback Logan Crabtree scrambled for his life.

Then for the Jets, things got worse.

The Bulldogs, under their “new” veteran coach, Bill Wilson, romped to a 47-0 win.

Riding the limber throwing arm of junior quarterback Dawson Halliday, with key receptions by wide receiver Dontae Bunche and powerful running by runningback Torey Works, the Bulldogs looked solid in their zero-week tune-up as they crushed Cumberland County on a steamy night at home.

Works, a junior, rushed seven times for 95 yards and two touchdowns in addition to three receptions for 34 yards. Defensively he had four solo tackles.

Winning praise from Wilson for playing well “on offense, defense and the kicking game,”

After three quarters of play, a balanced attack of running, passing and defense gave the Bulldogs all the victory margin they needed or wanted at 47-0.

Wilson, West High Rebels’ popular coach for 27 years, returned to the sidelines from an eight-year retirement. He substituted freely in a fourth quarter when, clearly, CCHS’s strength was sapped by a lethal combination of Bulldogs’ vigor and oppressive August heat.

The Bulldogs’ first score capped a 51-yard drive on a 19-yard pass to Torey Works with 7:43 left in the first quarter. Less than five minutes later, Halliday sneaked in from the Jets’ one for a second score at 2:56. Bearden then coasted to a 34-0 halftime lead as the Jets’ offense sputtered.

A long punt return from 155-pound wide receiver Corey Eichholtz put Bearden at the Jets’ 33.

That set up another BHS touchdown on Preston Rouse’s 30-yard run to secure the BHS lead at 21-0 with 8:21 left in the half.

With Halliday throwing out of the shotgun, Works scampered 24 yards a minute later to put the Dogs up 28-0 with 7:42 left. Bearden’s edge might have been greater by then, but for delay miscues and block-in-the-back penalties that nullified brilliant plays including a 41-yard punt return.

Kicker Brandon Reagan had a good night, keeping the Jets bottled up in its own territory.

In the second half, Jets backup quarterback Josh Potter was intercepted by Aaron Gray, who returned the ball 30 yards to set Bearden up again.

Coach Wilson, after the game, said his players began the game “extremely high” in hopes of winning a game they had won only narrowly, 7-6, last season.

“They’re young and they’ll play better in the future,” he said of the Jets. “Even when my kids played well and made interceptions” to stop Jets’ drives, Wilson said, “those kids stayed in it. We were fortunate to get up by two touchdowns in the first nine minutes.”

Part of Bulldog success Friday, Wilson said, grew out of the team’s 2005 frustrations when they finished 4-2 in Region 1-5A but only 5-6 overall.

“They wanted to prove to everyone they were a good team,” Wilson said. He praised a balanced team effort but singled out performances of Halliday and Bunche who caught three passes for 44 yards and one touchdown. Brandon Pemberton recovered a key fumble at the Jets’ 24.

On the defensive side, Nathan Hamilton posted three solo tackles and three assists, and Dorsell Cunningham had two solo tackles and three assists.

For the night, the Bulldogs rolled up 17 first downs to the Jets’ three and amassed 362 yards offense to the Jets’ meager 29. Bulldog quarterbacks combined for 12 of 22 passing for 161 yards compared to eight of 23 Jets passing to average less than one yard per attempt.

The Jets won the “stats” battle only with a 35.5-yard punting average on six kicks. The Bulldogs punted twice for 29.5 yards. The Jets lost just 24 yards on three penalties, compared to Bearden’s 55 yards, given up on eight penalties.

But the Bulldogs rolled up 201 rushing yards on 23 carries to best the Jets’ seven yards on 16 carries.

Bearden’s 362 yards on offense dwarfed the Jets’ total of 29. Bearden lost its only fumble, and CCHS lost one of its three.

Halliday, who played only the first half and one second-half series, still went 10 of 17 for 147 yards and three touchdowns.

Next week, Bearden travels east to West High whose field is named in honor of Wilson. West’s Rebels handily won last year’s face-off with Bearden, 27-0. But West’s 27 points Friday night were insufficient in a 28-27 loss to Webb School [see related story beginning on page 15].


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