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Points pouring in as ’Dawgs out-slug West

Bearden’s 2006 Bulldogs stayed perfect Friday, Aug. 25, with a hard-won 31-29 win over a feisty West High School Rebels team at WHS.

The victory margin was partly due to Bearden’s stonewall defense and West’s tendency to self-destruct at inopportune times. Fourteen penalties cost the Rebels 115 yards.

The game was a kind of homecoming for Bearden’s veteran head coach Bill Wilson, who had coached 28 years in West’s stadium, now named for him, before coming out of retirement to BHS this year. Wilson found himself in his old dressing room; his name adorned the scoreboard, and one of his former players coaching West’s team across the field.

Wilson’s determined Bulldogs (2-0) yielded West yardage but still prevailed in a see-saw game by mastering the big play on both sides of the ball.

After the win, Wilson thanked his players and told them, friends and reporters his return to West “feels like I’m back home.” Clearly, he was pleased to emerge with the win.

Bulldogs junior quarterback Dawson Halliday said his teammates had “played with a lot of heart at both ends of the field,” partly from pride and partly to ensure their coach’s return to West would be successful.

“Our defense played great and came through every time we needed a spark to get us going,” he said. They were amazing.”

Halliday said Bulldog seniors were especially elated to get their first win over West in four tries. Among senior standouts were Dontae Bunche and Zack Jackson, whose “Zack attack” play gave the Rebs fits all night.

Halliday impressed, too, completing 17 of his 29 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Bulldogs junior Torey Works, a “Works horse” runner, scored three TDs and rolled up 104 yards on 12 touches rushing. Seventy-one of those yards came on one fourth-quarter play that seemed to seal West’s fate with 9:48 left. Still, the outcome remained uncertain until the final minutes.

West struck first with 7:48 left in the first quarter as an impressive 10-play, 70-yard drive ended in a 7-yard pitch-and-run play from West quarterback Jake Ryan to RB Yashan Campbell.

Stunned, Halliday & Co. went to work with a reply that culminated in a 32-yard Jackson TD run, and West kept a 7-6 lead at the quarter. Good defense and penalties kept the Rebs from scoring again until Ryan, late in the half, hit junior Ken Easterly for a touchdown. A swarming BHS defense, led by Matt Williamson and Alex Goltry, thwarted Ryan’s two-point try.

By that time, BHS had struck twice — at 9:04 with a Torey Works TD, and at 3:43 left with a 17-yard Halliday-to-Bunche pass.

Missed PATs left Bearden’s halftime edge at 18-13. Jake Collins’ second-half field goal kept West close at 18-16.

Bearden’s pressure defense kept Ryan scrambling for life, and linebacker Brandon Pemberton sacked him for a 12-yard loss.

Jackson broke up key passes to stall West’s offense and, when West threatened, Jackson made key picks, one of which he returned 15 yards to the Rebs’ 20. An 11-yard Works run, to end the third quarter, gave BHS a 24-16 edge entering the final quarter.

But the Rebs would not quit. With 10:41 left, Yashan Campbell dashed 38 yards to threaten, and Ryan’s strike thrown to Ken Easterly pared the Bulldogs’ edge to 24-22 with 10 minutes left.

Defensive back C.J. Gunn broke up Ryan’s try for a tie.

Bulldogs Cory Eichholtz returned West’s kick to the Rebel 29 to set up Works’ TD with 9:48 left, and Brandon Reagan’s kick gave the ’Dawgs a 31-22 lead.

Just when the Rebs seemed bottled up on third and 10 with 8:17 to play, Campbell ignited the home crowd with his 85-yard touchdown, and the conversion made it 31-29.

Bearden’s next drive bogged down on fourth and 17, but Jackson and the Bulldog defense took over to shut down the Rebs who took their final timeout with 1:48 left. Then West’s 15-yard pass interference penalty gave the Bulldogs the first down Halliday needed to ice the win at 1:40.

West rolled up 286 yards passing on Ryan’s 15 of 28 completions, and West added 115 yards on 37 carries. The Bulldogs carried 21 times for 105 yards.

The Rebs’ 401-yard total offense eclipsed BHS’s 275 yards.

Jackson’s night included a 32-yard touchdown, two interceptions for 39 yards total, five solo tackles and four assists.

The Bulldogs’ “Works-horse” piled up 104 yards on 12 runs and made three solo tackles and three assists. Bunche hauled in seven passes for 67 yards and a TD.

On defense, Daane Blocksma had eight solo tackles and three assists, while linebacker Brandon Pemberton had two sacks.


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