Bulldogs beat Point Loma, 21-19, in a white-knuckler, face Grossmont Friday

By Bill Tamburrino

As Yogi Berra would say, “It looked like déjà vu all over again.” The Bulldog football team got off to a fast start against Point Loma High School and led the Pointers 14-0 after two possessions.

It looked like a repeat of last week’s rout of El Cajon Valley High School. Then a couple of bad bounces, a special teams mistake, a pass interception off a tipped pass for a TD and a very physical second half turned the game into a white-knuckler that the Bulldogs hung on to win 21-19 on Friday.

It took less than two minutes to take a 7-0 lead. Ramona’s Brandon Gansch ran through a hole opened by Patrick Hastings, Mike Hoover, Trae Rodriguez, William Rieve, Clayton Cooke and Matt Lawler and dashed untouched for a 43-yard touchdown. Tyler Vargas added the PAT.

The Dawg defense forced Point Loma to punt after six plays, and the Dawgs marched 65 yards in five plays that were capped by a 34-yard Nathan Cherek touchdown run. The Dawgs had a 14-0 lead with 2:33 remaining in the first quarter.

The Pointers drove 80 yards for a score to make it 14-7, and then the Pointers picked off a Marco Cobian pass that was tipped and returned it for a 47-yard score. The PAT was wide left and the Dawgs held on to a 1 point lead.

After trading punts, the Dawgs drove 43 yards in four minutes and scored a Tanner “T-Bone” Williams two-yard run to take a 21-13 halftime advantage.

On Point Loma’s first possession of the second half, it appeared that the Dawg defense had held as they forced a punt. The punt was muffed. A muff is a ball touched by the receiving team that becomes a loose ball. It can be recovered by the kicking team but not advanced. Point Loma recovered the muffed punt and drove for a score. The 2 point conversion attempt failed and Ramona held on to a 21-19 lead.

The Pointer defense held Ramona to a three and out. Ramona only ran three offensive plays in the third quarter. The defense was on the field almost the entire period.

“Keyshaun Crichlow, in his first varsity start at linebacker, played a heck of a game and was our defensive player of the game,” said coach Damon Baldwin.

Point Loma appeared to be marching for a go-ahead touchdown on the initial drive of the final quarter. The Ramona defense was tired, as they had not had a break from the heat and had been on the field for most of the second half, but they remained scrappy. Then they came up with the play that saved the game.

Christian Dominquez stripped the ball from a Pointer ball carrier as he was going in for a touchdown. The fumble took a Ramona bounce and Garrett Binkley recovered the ball inside the 1 yard line. That play killed the Pointer’s momentum.

Ramona was forced to punt on the next possession and the Pointers had the ball in Bulldog territory with plenty of time on the clock.

The Bulldog defense was more determined than tired and forced the Pointers to punt.

The Dawgs got the ball on their own 30 and mounted a drive with 5:46 remaining in the game. The Dawgs drove to the Pointer 5 yard line where the Pointers put up a goal line stand and took over with 2:02 left on the clock.

“We have a great kicker (Tyler Vargas) and we could have kicked a field goal but that would still have made it a one possession game,” said Baldwin. “I asked Stephon (Pace, the Bulldog defensive coordinator) if he would rather defend a 95 yard field or give them the ball on the twenty after the kickoff. He said, ‘Go for it!”

A key play in the drive was a clutch third down pass from Cobian to Cherek that covered 42 yards and kept the drive alive and gave the Dawgs excellent field possession.

Cobian finished the game by completing 10 of 12 passes for 117 yards. Garrett Binkley led all receivers with five grabs for 42 yards. Tanner Williams (3) and Colton Harris (1) also had receptions.

“Any time you have a sophomore quarterback completing 80 percent of his passes and hitting key throws like the one to Nathan, you have a great chance of winning,” said Baldwin.

Again the Dawg defense answered the challenge. After three runs, the Pointer quarterback attempted a pass. T-Bone Williams batted down the aerial with 24 clicks left on the clock and the Dawgs took over and ran out the clock.

Cherek led the offense with 81 rushing yards on 14 attempts. Gansch rushed for 69 yards on seven carries.

The Bulldog defense played a long and gutty game, and gang tackling was their forte. Travis Kerchner was in on 10 tackles and had one sack. Crichlow was in on nine tackles and had three tackles for losses.

Tanner Williams (the team has two players names Tanner Williams, a reason one has the “T-Bone” nickname) had eight tackles and Dominguez had seven. Matt Lawler made on big tackle for a loss in the final period and Sean Stemm made a touchdown saving tackle in the fourth quarter.

The Dawgs hit the road to Grossmont at 7 p.m. on Friday, when the defense will have its toughest test of the season. The Foothillers have scored 15 touchdowns, eight passing and seven rushing. They have scored 108 points. The Foothiller quarterback, Anthony Lawrence, has passed for 564 yards and has a quarterback rating of 136. He has yet to toss an interception.

Baldwin has a simple solution to stopping Lawrence and the Grossmont offense.

“Our offense will have to stay on the field and sustain some long, time-consuming drives,” he said.

   
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