No.7 Cougars dissect Dawgs, 42-16

Photo by Wayne Craig/Clear Memories

Burnet senior defensive back Tanner Abbott slides under a tipped ball for a Bulldog interception during Friday night’s district opener. The Bulldogs fell short to the visiting China Spring Cougars and will travel to Gatesville for game two of 13-4A play this Friday.





By Wayne Craig

Bulletin Sports

The score to last Friday’s district opener between Burnet and China Spring may appear to be a runaway at first sight, but in fact it was a slow methodical process. The Cougars brought a quality team to Burnet, with a No.7 state ranking, but all things didn’t come easy for the boys in blue.

A scrappy Bulldog team showed up to play, and even captured the first lead.

Quarterback Chandler Galban found his big brother Sterling Galban on a deep middle ball during Burnet’s second series and the rest was history as the elder Galban turned on the jets for a 68-yard score with 8:14 on the first quarter clock. The PAT failed, 6-0 Bulldogs.

The Cougars answered with a nine-play drive; Cougar Erik Hart broke a few tackles and took it the final 15-steps to put the visitors up 7-6 with 5:34 in the first.

Bulldog running back Ian Carter followed with two great runs, but a holding penalty put the Dawgs in a hole they couldn’t climb out of.

With 1:46 left in the first China Spring stretched their lead. Receiver KJ Peoples took a short pass and out-ran a pack of Dawgs for a 70-yard score, 14-6 Cougs.

After a three and out by the Bulldog offense the Cougars were soon knocking on the door again. This time they used their big receiver, Tyrick James who finished off a three-play, 45-yard drive with a reverse for a 14-yard touchdown. The PAT was good, 21-6, 11:50 second.

A Cougar interception offered more opportunity but defender Jake Burkhalter put a stop to that with a big fourth down stop one-yard shy of the line to gain.

On the heels of Carter and S. Galban the Bulldogs found some rhythm. They patiently marched from their own nine-yard line all the way to the Cougar 17 in 11-plays. There was a targeting penalty and unsportsmanlike that helped matters, but with every block, catch and run momentum was building.

There was still air in the Bulldogs lungs as they reeled off four more plays, capping a 15-play, seven-minute drive with a Tyler Torres 34-yard field goal to make it 21-9 at the break.

Two outstanding halftime shows had fans from both sides cheering loud and proud. It was no shock because each band prides themselves yearly as being tops in the state.

The game eventually ensued and the Bulldog defense clocked in first. It was a physical contest and Bulldog defenders were game.

The names Zach Ferguson and Reid Burton echoed several times each to start the second half; while Jordan Godfrey, Roger Craig, Seth Carpenter and Kaleb Alexander also produced in the series.

The Cougars were having to work for every yard but eventually found pay-dirt, going 64-yards in 14-plays scoring on an eight-yard pile pushing run. The extra-point made it 28-9 with seven-minutes to play in the third.

The Bulldogs were having more success on offense but in short time a fumbled snap couldn’t be corralled giving China Spring terrific field position 29-steps from the zone.

Tackles by Jaxson Denton and Jaylen Laidler put the Cougars in a fourth down situation but with a head of steam their monster James rumbled 20-yards for a back-breaking score, 35-9, 4:48 third.

After a seven-play Bulldog series ended with a punt, the Cougars went back to the big guy and James took care of business with a 70-yard house visit to make it 42-9 with one-minute left in the third.

In a blink the Dawgs were in the paint themselves when a Galban to Galban completion was then lateraled to Carter who finished off the 36-yard touchdown play. Torres put the extra-point through the poles making it 42-16, 11:30 fourth.

That would be the final score of the contest thanks to some great fourth quarter efforts by Bulldog defenders, including a mid-fourth quarter interception by Tanner Abbott.

It was a tough loss, but there were plenty of positives to take away from it considering the Cougars came in as the No.4 team in the state in Class 4A.

The Bulldogs challenge this week doesn’t get any easier as they travel to Gatesville to take on a top ten ranked Hornets team. The Hornets are 6-0 on the season and 1-0 in district after dominating Lampasas 49-13 in round one of district play.

La Vega beat the Liberty Hill Panthers at their place, 33-18.

This week’s match-ups have the Lampasas Badgers at Liberty Hill, the Bulldogs at Gatesville, and China Spring will travel to La Vega to take on the Pirates.


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