Bulldog fans had high hope Friday night in the first round of district playoffs when their team took the opening kickoff and drove it the length of the field in 15 plays for a touchdown.
Their enthusiasm took a hit when the Pirates took the ensuing kickoff all the way back for a touchdown.
At the end of the first quarter, the Bulldogs trailed 20-16 with the state track stars on the Pirate team frequently breaking tackles and being uncatchable in the open field. The Pirates blanked the Bulldogs 21-0 in the second quarter for a 41-16 halftime score.
The Bulldogs came out from halftime reenergized scoring a couple of quick touchdowns. Just when it looked like the Bulldogs would get back into the game, Ash Grove scored again. In the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs scored six points, but the Pirates scored 14. Final score: Bulldogs – 34, Pirates – 61.
On Monday, Head Coach Bob Ramsey talked about the game:
“It was a crazy, crazy game.”
“Usually you say any time you can rush for over 300, you have a 90% chance of winning. But there were a lot of turnovers in the ball game, critical turnovers. A couple of interceptions that they took back to the one-yard line, then went ahead and scored. We gave them a lot of points. They didn’t earn very many.”
Q. It looked like we had a hard time tackling their backs.
“They had a couple of kids that finished in the top of the state in the hundred meter run in track. They were just quick enough that we never could really get a clean shot and get wrapped up on them. They got loose then we couldn’t catch them.”
“It was the same thing on that kickoff return. It took us 15 plays to drive down and score. It took them one. We couldn’t catch that kid once he got around the corner.”
“The last couple of weeks, the gas has kinda run out of the tank. We have been wore down and heavy legged. It’s tough for us. We lost Tanner Hixson in that second half. Jacob Bowman didn’t play the second half. Austin Jones went out with an ankle. Colten Hedrick got hurt in the second half. Those kids make a lot of plays for us. When those kids aren’t in, we get awfully young awfully quick. Some kids that didn’t get a lot of minutes in practice had to step out there and play. That’s hard to do, especially in a playoff game.’
Q. Number 20 made a good run down the west sideline. Is he a freshman?
“Yep. Lance Molz. That was kickoff return where he popped it up there. I thought he was gone, but that had enough speed that they caught him and forced him out of bounds.”
Q. I was disappointed but I was not embarrassed.
“We were disappointed, too, but the kids played extremely hard. You could tell in that third quarter we were coming back. There was a critical interception that hurt us. We had a chance to get back within five. The next thing you know, we throw an interception for a touchdown and they are up 20.”
Q. Kason is getting better at throwing. He didn’t throw any at the first of the year. What are you looking for next year?
“We only had six seniors on the team. We are young and will have more coming back than we have in previous years. You look forward to that. As a quarterback, he will be a junior. He will have a better understanding of the offense. So, we are looking forward to that.”
Statistically, the Bulldogs looked like they should have or least could have won the game.
First downs were dead even at seven. Rushing, the Bulldogs gained 425 yards. The Pirates had 365. The Bulldogs gained 40 yards in the air. The Pirates got 35. Interceptions were lopsided with the Pirates snagging three, the Bulldogs none. The Bulldogs did pass for one TD – from Tanner Hixson to James Dubois.
Fumbles lost were another sore spot for the Bulldogs – three fumbles, three lost. The Pirates fumbled once and the Bulldogs got it.
On defense, the Bulldogs made 35 tackles, three of them a TFL (tackle for loss).
James Dubois led all tacklers making 6.5 tackles, one of them a TFL. Jacob Bowman and Jakob Studer tied for second with each making five solo tackles. Lance Molz and Tanner Hixson tied for third with three solo tackles each. Austin Jones spent some quality time in the Pirate backfield making 2.5 tackles, two of them a TFL. The posse of Robert Keith, Kyle Collins and Colten Hedrick each tallied two solo tackles. Hunter Harper made 1.5 tackles. Derrick Taylor and Kason Schwalm got one tackle each. Koty Steward was credited with half a tackle.
HIXSON HITS ‘EM HARD – Bulldog Tanner Hixson (No. 37) was the workhorse Friday night against Ash Grove running with the ball 23 times for 234 yards. He caught one pass for 18 yards. Derrick Taylor (No. 26) ran eight times for 81 yards and one TD.
DUBOIS GETS THE POINTS – Bulldog James Dubois (No. 2) rushed 15 times Friday night again the Ash Grove Pirates racking up 123 yards and three touchdowns plus at least one two point conversion and received a passing TD.