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Halliday finds late pick to his liking, ’Dawgs escape West rally

Bearden senior quarterback Dawson Halliday became the hero in a different way for the Bulldogs in a 17-14 victory over West Friday, Aug. 31, at BHS.

Halliday always wanted to play defense, but the senior has benn limited to mainly offensive duties his four years at Bearden. After BHS corner Madison English went down with leg cramps, the quarterback got his chance to play on the other side of the ball.

“I have been wanting to play defense ever since I’ve been here,” Halliday said. “I always played fullback and defensive end growing up. I love hitting somebody and I miss that aspect of football. So I got out there and I was determined I was going to make a play.”

It was a move that Bearden didn’t regret. With 30 seconds to play, Halliday intercepted a Jake Ryan pass in the end zone to preserve the win.

“They loved the slant and [West receiver Jack Wagner] came up and was leaning in a little bit and I knew right away that’s what the play was,” Halliday said.

The play was sweet redemption for Halliday, who threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown with 4:57 remaining in the game to bring the score to 17-14.

For the second week in a row the Bearden offense scored on its opening possession. Halliday found English in the corner of the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown pass on a 4th-and-1 to give Bearden a 7-0 lead with 8:04 left in the first quarter.

“We had a different play called,” Halliday said. “We checked off. I knew Madison was tall and I just threw it up and gave him a chance and he made a great play.”

Getting off to a fast start is important for the Bearden offense. It is even more important in tough ballgames such as this one.

“That’s indicative of the way we start,” Bearden head coach Brad Taylor said. “What I would like to see now, though, is to continue on that. We had some stalls in the middle and shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times, so I would like to eliminate those. But that is how we start and that is important.”

After an 87-yard drive stalled on the West 7, Bearden’s Brandon Reagan added a 24-yard field goal with 5:32 remaining in the half to give the Bulldogs a 10-0 lead.

Bulldogs senior tailback Torey Works gained 69 yards on the drive and finished with 123 yards on 21 carries. Bearden took that lead into the halftime break.

West opened the second half with a scoring drive capped by a Terry Thomas 20-yard touchdown run to cut it to 10-7 with 8:50 remaining in the third quarter.

“They made some great plays, but our kids made some mistakes and we were able to bounce back, so that is something you can look forward to and is promising,” Taylor said. “When things go bad we are not just going to go into a shell, so I thought that was great to see out of our kids.”

Halliday answered the score with a 1-yard bootleg score of his own to give Bearden a 17-7 lead with three seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Halliday finished 12-of-20 for 124 yards. But a fumble and interception nearly proved costly for the Bulldogs.

“It was a tough game,” Halliday said. “I didn’t play real well. The line played great but I struggled throwing the ball and when that happens, the team struggles. I did not play real well on offense. I was lucky. I threw that pick, they took it back and I wanted a chance to redeem myself so they put me on defense and I got it.”


Former West and Bearden head coach, the late Bill Wilson, was honored before the game with a tribute video that was shown on a monitor moments before kick-off.

“It’s the most emotional game I have ever been a part of,” BHS senior Preston Rouse said.

“Every play out here was for Coach Wilson. Everybody out here left everything they had on the line. It was the biggest thing I have seen at Bearden High School since I have been here.”


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