Bearcats rout Bulldogs, 47-13

The heavily-favored Ballinger Bearcats found themselves behind early in their homecoming game against the upstart Brady Bulldogs last Friday night, but behind the services of two of the top backs in the area they recovered and routed the Dogs, 47-13. The Bulldogs took the opening kickoff and marched right down the field to score and take a 7-0 lead, taking almost half of the initial quarter. Ballinger’s quarterback Justin Nicholson, who had a career night running the ball, and super sophomore running back, Antonio Posey, combined to rally the Bearcats who scored twice in the first period and three times in the second to take a commanding 32-7 margin into the dressing room at intermission. The ‘Cats scored on each of their five possessions in the first half and displayed that they are one of the better Class 3A teams in the region. Posey, who had been reported as an outstanding 195-pound running back proved that his is the real deal by rushing 18 times for 148 yards. Nicholson also broke the century mark as he gained 123 yards on only nine carries. The Bulldogs showed their potential by going 72 yards in nine plays to score the first points of the game, but they had a couple of breaks go against them in the first quarter, and Ballinger gained the momentum that the ‘Cats never relinquished. Brady Bulldog assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Todd Bandy spoke for head coach Davy DuBose, who was out of town Monday on personal business, and said, “We have to learn to put 48 minutes of play together, but this is a characteristic of a young football team, which we are.” “We had a couple of things go against us early (a long pass to Blake Raybion that was ruled incomplete and an offside penalty on third down that allowed the Bearcats to get out of the shadow of their own goal line) in the game,” Bandy said. Another bad break came Brady’s way on the next to the last play before halftime when Bulldog QB Clifton Tally aggravated his right shoulder while throwing the football. “He has some kind of neurological damage in his shoulder and is due to have an MRI Tuesday in San Angelo. It only bothers him when he throws the ball so he’s able to play on defense,” the coach said. Sophomore back-up quarterback Colby Dodds went the rest of the way for the Bulldogs. Bandy said the team has a very big game coming up here Friday night when the Bulldogs host Comanche in their final non-district game. “A win over the Indians could really help us going into district. I still believe we can be a playoff team,” he said. Comanche lost last week to Liberty Hill, a member of Brady’s District 26-3A, by a 9-6 score. Practice plans early Monday afternoon were still up in the air because of the bomb scare earlier that morning. “If we can get the school building cleared out, we hope to workout. We need it badly,” Bandy said. “We’ve got a bad habit of missing tackles and we need as much work as possible.” H Johnny Menefield returned the opening kickoff 12 yards to the Brady 28 and on second and 10 from that spot went 13 yards on a pitch around right end, the longest running play for the Bulldogs since the Mason game on Sept. 7. Two plays later Tally zipped 13 yards on a scramble into Ballinger territory. After Chris Airheart got two yards, Tally connected with tight end Zach Brown for 22 yards to the Ballinger 22. Following an offside penalty against Ballinger, Menefield got three then Tally found C.J. Villegas for a 14-yard scoring pass. Jody Jones booted the extra point, and the Bulldogs led 7-0 with 7:45 left in the first quarter. Ballinger bounced right back. Blake Frerich returned the ensuing kickoff 25 yards to the Bearcat 39. On first down Blake Raybion almost intercepted Justin Nicholson’s pass down the middle. After Posey gained six, Nicholson ran the option to the left and raced down the sidelines 54 yards for the Ballinger touchdown. Raybion blocked Damacio Agui-lera’s extra point attempt, and the Dogs still led 7-6 with 5:43 left in the first period. Menefield gave the Doggies great field position by returning the kickoff 33 yards to the Ballinger 46. On third and eight from the 44, Tally heaved a long pass to Raybion who appeared to make a diving catch inside the Ballinger 20, but after ruling a catch, the official changed his mind and waved it incomplete. Jones’ punt of 43 yards on fourth down was killed inside Ballinger’s one-yard line. Posey was nailed for no gain on first down. Then he got four on second down before being stopped on the next play, but the Bulldogs were flagged for lining up offsides. Nicholson sneaked for the first down on the next play and then Posey broke off a couple of lengthy gains of 29 and 12 yards. Several plays later Nicholson passed to Posey for a six-yard TD. Nicholson passed to Ace Trow-bridge for the two-point conversion as the ‘Cats took a 14-7 lead with 59 seconds left in the first quarter. Brady could make only seven yards in three plays on its next possession and Jones’ 30-yard punt died at the Ballinger 35. After Posey dashed 20 yards on second down to the Brady 45, he was hammered by Bulldog linebacker Jeremy Shields and suffered an ankle injury that put him on the sidelines until midway in the third quarter. Nicholson and company took over and methodically marched down field in eight plays to score another six-pointer. Brian Gamble capped the drive with a four-yard run. A poor snap foiled the extra point attempt as Raybion made the tackle. The score remained 20-7 with 6:36 left in the first half. The Bulldogs failed to make a first down in three plays and Jones punted 43 yards with no return at the Ballinger 26. Nicholson hurt Brady again with an option keeper for 24 yards then Gamble rambled for 37 yards to the Brady eight. A holding penalty moved the Bearcats back, but four plays later Nicholson dived in from a yard out. The extra point pass failed and Ballinger held a 26-7 lead with 2:20 left in the second period. Again the Bulldogs couldn’t move the ball and on fourth down Jones fumbled the deep snap and was swarmed under by Bearcats at the Brady 15. Five plays later Nicholson passed to Frerich for a one-yard touchdown pass. The run failed, and Ballinger led 32-7 with 15 seconds left before halftime. Menefield returned the kickoff 23 yards to the Brady 43. On first down Tally threw a wobbly pass to a sideline receiver, but it badly missed the target. That was when he hurt his arm. The first half ended on Airheart’s seven-yard run to midfield. The third quarter began like the first two periods when on second down Nicholson completed a 32-yard pass to Frerich to the Brady 33, but four plays later the Bearcats were halted for the first time in the ball game when Nicholson was stopped short by Brady’s Casey Poe. The Dogs, led by Dodds as quarterback, couldn’t made a first down, and Jones’ punt of 32 yards was fair caught at the Ballinger 39. With Posey back in the game and pounding the middle of the line, the Bearcats advanced to the Brady 4 where the Dogs turned Ballinger back. On fourth down Aguilera’s 22-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right, and the Bulldogs took over at the 20. Brady faced a fourth and one at the 29 moments later, but Dodds was thrown for a four-yard loss and Ballinger took over at the Bulldog 25. Penalties and strong defensive play by the Dogs pushed Ballinger back to the 36. On fourth down Tyler Carter’s punt was fielded by Menefield at the five. He fumbled when hit, but he recovered. Two plays later Dodds’ pass was intercepted by Lane Denton at the Brady 22. On first down Posey showed no effects of his ankle hurting as he dashed the distance for the touchdown. This time Aguilera kicked the point, and it was 39-7 with 9:59 left in the game. The two teams exchanged punts, and Menefield fumbled when hit, and a Bearcat recovered at the Brady 27. With Trowbridge and Gamble toting the ball, the Cats drove to the Brady five where on fourth and one, the Bulldog defense stopped reserve Ballinger QB Travis McGee for a yard loss and the Dogs took over at the Brady 6. Airheart fumbled on first down and Denton recovered at the Brady 10. McGee reached the two on first down then Gamble carried it over on the next play. Nicholson passed to Mark Baird for the two-point conversion, making the score 47-7 with 2:12 left in the game. Following the short kickoff, Mario Solis carried for a seven-yard gain before C.J. Villegas shocked the crowd by taking a handoff from Dodds, heading around right end, he cutting back across the middle and speeding 57 yards for Brady’s final TD. A bad center snap forced a run that failed as the Dogs narrowed the score to 47-13 with 1:17 left. The Bulldogs’ homecoming game is set here Friday with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. Brady is 1-3 on the season while Ballinger is 5-0.

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