BIG PINEY – The Punchers chewed up yards with multiple pass plays and quick feet during the Oct. 1 match against Lovell, yet were unable to overcome their conference rival on the scoreboard.
The Bulldogs scored a touchdown right off the bat in the first quarter. The Big Piney defense tightened up, preventing Lovell from scoring again in the first half.
Lovell rebounded in the second half, scoring two touchdowns as the third quarter opened. The Punchers raced into the end zone to score their first touchdown. Lovell responded with another touchdown on its next drive.
The Bulldogs maintained the lead through a scoreless fourth quarter, taking the win, 28-6.
“This was a hard-fought game,” said head coach Ryan Visser. “We knew coming in this would be a very good team that we were playing. I thought the boys battled their tails off all game. We ended up with more yards than Lovell, but didn’t execute well in the red zone and had a couple key turnovers. We really need to focus in as a group. This is a big game this week against Mountain View and we need to come out and put a full game together.”
The Lovell offense burst onto the field, rushing the ball into the end zone on its opening drive. A good kick put the Bulldogs ahead, 7-0.
Senior Koy Walton returned Lovell’s kickoff to the Punchers’ 25-yard line. Senior quarterback Thomas Barron completed his first pass to fellow senior Dalton Bell for a 22-yard gain and a first down.
Senior Jovany Munoz caught the handoff and charged across the 50-yard line. Junior Thomas Howard rammed through the Bulldog defense for a first down.
Lovell gained possession on a turnover on downs, but was shut down by an ironclad wall of Punchers.
Big Piney struggled to gain yards on its next drive and was forced to punt.
Howard swept in with a sack on Lovell’s next possession. Senior Seth Stoutenburg pulled off a sack, forcing Lovell to fumble.
Lovell took possession on turnover on downs as the second quarter began. The Puncher defense remained airtight, stopping the Bulldogs in their tracks. Howard and Stoutenburg both led tackles.
Lovell fumbled on its final drive in the first half. Senior Jaron Petty sped across the line of scrimmage and recovered the ball for Big Piney.
Barron completed three passes to Walton, sweeping deep into Lovell territory before the second quarter ended.
The halftime scoreboard stood at 7-0 in Lovell’s favor.
The Bulldog offense hit the gridiron with a fury in the third quarter, scoring two touchdowns. A 2-point conversion on the second touchdown carried the score to 21-0 in Lovell’s favor.
Barron launched a pass to Bell for a 20-yard gain and a first down. Petty caught the next pass, rushing into Lovell territory for another first down.
Barron wound up a pass to Walton, pushing Big Piney up 5 yards. Senior Dom Snively found an opening and caught the next pass, moving the ball across the 40-yard line for a third Puncher first down.
Barron completed a pair of passes to Munoz, eating up 12 yards. Munoz grabbed a handoff from Barron and drove the ball to the 12-yard line. Barron completed a pass to Petty, taking the ball to the 1-yard line.
Barron pitched the ball to Bell. Bell muscled through the Bulldog defenders and landed in the end zone for a Puncher touchdown.
Lovell promptly responded with a fourth touchdown on its next drive. The Bulldogs kicked the ball between the goal posts, taking the score to 28-6.
The fourth quarter turned into a defensive battle with neither side scoring. Big Piney took possession at its own 10-yard line as the final minutes ticked down.
Under heavy pressure, Barron delivered a pass from the backfield. A Bulldog batted the pass away. Sophomore Ivan Silvas caught the wild pass, broke tackle and moved the Punchers up 10 yards.
The Bulldog defense continued to zero-in on Barron. Unable to find an opening, Barron tucked the ball and sprinted across the backfield, up the right side and over the 50-yard line for a first down.
The Punchers advanced steadily into Lovell territory, with Barron completing a sequence of passes to Walton and Snively. The Punchers fell shy of making it to the end zone before the final buzzer sounded.