By Larry Smith The Brady Bulldogs came within a hair of beating District 8-2A leader Blanco last Friday night in Blanco, but it just wasn’t to be. The Panthers took the victory, 18-13. “We played hard, and we had a chance to win, but it seems we just need to beat a good team, and Blanco is a good team, in order to turn this program around,” Brady coach Glen Jones said. With five minutes left in the game, the Bulldogs were driving when Brantley King, struggling for extra yards, was stripped of the ball at the Blanco 5-yard line. It was the first Brady turnover of the game. “We made so many mistakes on defense, and we still held them to only 18 points,” the coach said. Jones said that Blanco is an extremely good team, and that their middle linebacker Ross McCormick is probably the best in the district. “All three of their linebackers are very good,” he added. “They covered our passes very well.” He said the two teams matched up aggressively. The Bulldogs continue to improve, and they play hard. They just need a break to be really good. Blanco took the opening kickoff and Eric Collins ran to midfield, a 39-yard return. From that spot, they methodically marched for the game’s first points. It took the Panthers nine plays as halfback Layton Dworaczyk scored from three yards out. McCormick’s kick failed, and it was 6-0 Blanco with 7:09 left in the first quarter. The Bulldogs, with halfback Prennis Williams running for 21 yards on the second play from scrimmage, were stopped by the Panthers at the Blanco 45, and Xander Leatherwood’s punt on fourth down rolled to the Blanco 14. On first down, Blanco QB Jared Newby saw his pass intercepted by King, who returned it three yards to the Panther 37. Williams, who led all rushers with 125 yards, picked up 25 on first down to the 12. From there, the Bulldogs punched it in in three plays. Fullback Jake Long plunged it in from the one. Leatherwood’s extra point attempt failed. It was tied at 6-6 with still 1:58 left in the first period. On the ensuing kickoff, Dworaczyk was stripped of the ball by Jace Fincher and Travis Tuckness took it to the Blanco 30. QB Ruben Resendez got 15 on first down, then he passed 12 yards to King to the three. Williams scored on the next play for the touchdown. Leatherwood kicked the point, and the Bulldogs led 13-6 with 50 seconds left in the first quarter. As good teams do, the Panthers retaliated, marching downfield in nine plays. Newby sneaked it in from the one, and Dworaczyk tried to run for the two points, but was stopped short. It was 13-12 with 8:43 left in the first half. Mackenzie Hirt fielded the pooch kick at the Brady 29, and Williams ripped off a 22-yard run on second down, placing the ball at midfield. Another King run of 11 yards and a 15-yard penalty against the Panthers for a face mask infraction put the ball at the Blanco 19. The Dogs couldn’t move and Leatherwood’s 37- yard field goal attempt failed. The Panthers took over at their own 20, and put together another long drive. Newby got 23 on first down. Two plays later the Bulldogs were flagged for a late hit that placed the ball at the Brady 39. Seven plays later Newby scored the touchdown from a yard out. The two-point conversion attempt was no good, and it was 18-13 with 26 seconds left in the first half. Taking another pooch kick by Hirt, the Bulldogs marched to the Blanco 45 before having to punt. This time Leatherwood booted a 41-yard punt that went out of bounds at the four-yard line. The Panthers got one first down before having to punt, and the Dogs took over at their own 44. They picked up two first downs and reached the Blanco 25 before turning it over on downs. Collins, who rushed for 82 yards on 13 carries, all in the second half, had runs of 10 and 24 yards to the Brady 30. On the next play, Tuckness hammered Dworaczyk, who fumbled and Isaiah Conrad recovered at the Brady 26. The Doggies picked up one first down then faced a fourth and 14 at their own 34 when Hirt came in to punt. Instead, he tossed a pass to King, who was wide open, and he took it to the Blanco 33, a gain of 34 yards. With just over five minutes left in the game, Williams got an 11-yard run to the Blanco 22. After Resendez had an incomplete pass, King broke on a 17-yard run to the Panther 5, and it appeared the Bulldogs would score the go-ahead touchdown. It was a controversical play, that officials conferred over for some time; they finally said that it was the Panthers’ ball, and a 15-yard penalty was tacked onto the play when Brady tackle T.J. Turk was pushed into an official, who promptly threw the flag. Consequently, Blanco took over at their own 20, virtually killed the clock and took the win. It was a bitter defeat for the Bulldogs, who will host Sonora this Friday. Conrad led the Bulldogs in tackles with 11. Other top defenders were Lonnie Williams with 9, Luke Sammons with 8, Tuckness with 7, and Jon Langseth and Hirt with 5. Brady is now 1-1 in district play and 3-4 overall.