Late rally nets first win for Bulldogs

LEADING RUSHER’Sophomore Chris Airheart heads for the corner on one of his carries Friday night. Airheart led all rushers with 168 yards on 23 carries. Brady’s young Bulldogs rallied for three fourth-quarter touchdowns and defeated the Mason Punchers here last Friday night, 27-6, in the second game of the season for both teams. The Dogs are now 1-1 on the year after dropping a 14-6 decision last week to the Coleman Bluecats. On a clear, dry, warm evening in Bulldog Stadium, the game was a tight one until the Clifton Tally-led Dogs went ahead by a 14-6 margin midway in the final stanza. After that, the Bulldogs quickly put the Punchers away with a pair of touchdowns late in the game. Brady’s biggest problem in the game was penalties. The Dogs were flagged for 20, for 123 yards. Bulldog coach Davy DuBose, who got his first Brady victory, said the team made “way too many penalties.” He said it was a lack of concentration on the players’ part. Some 10 of those penalties had to do with alignment, lining up offsides or motion. “Hopefully, we can get all this ironed out before our next game Friday at Sonora,” the coach said. Scoreless after the first half, DuBose felt that his team could have scored a couple of times in that period. “We played well in spurts in the second half, but we need to work more on fundamentals like blocking and tackling,” he added. The effort was there, the coach said. “We need more composure on the field. One of these days, those excuses for our mistakes on the field will run out,” he said. The coaching staff spent hours on viewing the first half alone and had the second half evaluated in time for workout Monday afternoon. Another bright spot in the first two games is that there have been no major injuries and all hands will be ready for the Sonora game. “We must elevate our play to another level for our next three games against Sonora, Ballinger and Comanche. These teams will be much stronger than our first two opponents,” DuBose pointed out. The team may have found a new star in sophomore tailback Chris Airheart, a 6-0, 170-pounder who DuBose hopes will tip the scales at 190 next fall. He led all rushers with 168 yards on 23 carries. “Chris had a good game in this his first start on the varsity. It also enables us to move Johnny Menefield around and gives us an opportunity to have a threat on the outside,” the coach said. “Airheart only needs to mature. He’s a tough kid,” he added. DuBose also praised the play of junior offensive tackle Bryan Parks. “He was a bright spot out there.” Tally also received accolades for his performance at quarterback. “Clifton was much improved over his first game. He rushed for over 100 yards (101) and did an overall good job,” he said. “He also made some fine passes, including a 15-yard scoring aerial to Menefield.” Defensively, DuBose’s only comments were for Menefield at free safety. “He had a good game. He’ll come up and stick you,” he said. Game summary: The Bulldogs took the opening kickoff and marched from their own 33 to the Mason 9 in 11 plays, but Tally lost a fumble and Sam Hoerster recovered for the Punchers at the 11, running it back to the Brady 34. Five plays later QB Dewey Stock-bridge fumbled and Brady’s massive defensive tackle Marcus Reed recovered for the Dogs at the 24. The two teams exchanged punts and the Bulldogs took over at their own 32 with Airheart bursting out for a 12-yard gainer on first down. Moments later Tally completed a 20-yard pass to tight end Zach Brown to the Mason 35, but the drive stalled because of penalties and Jody Jones punted out of bounds at the Mason 11 as the first quarter ended. On first down Manuel Gonzales, the Punchers top rusher with 92 yards, rambled 16 yards on first down, but fumbled at the end of the run and Samuel Torres recovered for Brady at the Mason 27. After a five-yard step-off, Tally sped 13 yards to the 19. Airheart got six, but the Dogs had another five-yard mishap. On fourth down Tally was stopped at the Mason 4, a yard short of the yard to gain. The Punchers punched the ball out near midfield before stalling and Keith Jackson punted 37 yards to the Brady 14. On first down Airheart ripped off a 25-yard run, but more penalties and a sack of Tally moved the ball backwards and Jones’ 28-yard punt was fair caught at the Mason 45. Neither team could threaten before halftime. At intermission, the Dogs held a hefty 177 yards in total offense to Mason’s 82, but the game was still knotted at 0-0. Mason’s Josh Berreles gave his team good field position on the second half kickoff, returning it 29 yards to the Puncher 39. The purple-clad team notched a pair of first downs before John Mata and Jeremy Shields sacked Stock-bridge and two plays later Gonzales was dropped short of the first down and the Dogs took over at their own 26. From that point they marched 74 yards in nine plays for the game’s first score. There was only one penalty on the drive as the Bulldog line opened gaping holes for the backs to run through. Tally capped the possession with a nifty 37-yard TD run, moving and juking his way to the goal line. Jones tacked on the extra point and the Dogs held a 7-0 edge with 3:33 left in the third period. To Mason’s credit, the Punchers bounced right back. From the 30, Gonzales got 15 yards on first down and Stockbridge sprinted 25 on the next play to the Brady 30. A personal foul penalty against the Dogs moved it even closer where a pair of short runs by Gonzales and a one-yard run by Victor Castillo put the Punchers right back in the game. Attempting a fake placement kick, Dustin McLeod ran for the two-pointer, but he was stopped. The Dogs held a narrow 7-6 lead with 1:13 left in the third quarter. Airheart opened Brady’s next possession with a 13-yard scamper to the Bulldog 41. Three plays later Torres was knocked down on an interference call and the ball was advanced into Mason territory. Tally had an 18-yard gain, and the Mason coach was flagged for a 13-yard penalty as the Bulldogs reached the Mason 14. A holding penalty and two more five yard penalties did not deter the Dogs as Airheart scored three plays later on an 11-yard jaunt. Jones’ kick made it 14-6 with 6:51 left in the game. Mason got one first down before Stockbridge fumbled and Mario Solis recovered for Brady at the Mason 34. After a false start penalty, Airheart dashed to the Mason 5 where on the next play Menefield scored, but it was wiped out by a holding penalty. On the next play from the 15, Tally connected with Menefield on a scoring pass. Jones boot made it 21-6 with 4:28 left. The Punchers took the ensuing kickoff and reached midfield before losing it on downs. The Dogs got their final TD after the fourth consecutive run by backup tailback Abraham Cortez, who went 22, 2, 18 and finally three for the touchdown. A fumbled snap foiled Jones’ kick attempt and the Dogs led 27-6 with 31 seconds left in the contest. With the defeating state Division I Class 2A champs, Sonora, next on the schedule for Brady, DuBose said a huge challenge is facing his Bulldogs. “They have size and athleticism. They put a lot of fine players on the field. We’ll be practicing all week with the intent to win, and we will play them in a ball game,” he said.

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