Facing off against Sargent High School on Oct. 16, the Dove Creek High School football team banged and battered their overmatched opponents into submission, and after four quarters had passed, the Bulldogs exited the field owning a 41-12 victory.
While the 29-point spread was indicative of a blowout, the opening half of the contest was anything but one-sided as Dove Creek took an 8-0 lead when Kade Hankins returned a fumble 65-yards midway through the first quarter and Sargent subsequently narrowed the gap to 8-6 on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Burk Temple to Payton Brown in the second frame.
“Penalties held us back in the first half,” Dove Creek head coach Shane Baughman said. “With about four minutes to go in the first half, we had 13 penalties, and they had zero.”
Once the second half got underway, the Bulldogs slowly gained control, thanks in large part to the play of their offensive line, which opened giant running lanes for senior running backs Gage Bailey and Gauge Thompson.
A 19-yard touchdown by Bailey run early in the third quarter put Dove Creek ahead 14-6, and after a 35-yard touchdown run by Thompson midway through the quarter and a 7-yard rushing touchdown by Bailey late in the frame, the Bulldogs led 28-6 heading into the final 12 minutes.
Dove Creek senior quarterback Chorbin Cressler opened the fourth quarter scoring by delivering a 4-yard touchdown strike to Hankins, and Thompson scored the final touchdown of the game on an 11-yard run.
“The key was our offensive line,” Baughman said. “They opened up holes for our running backs. We just wore them down with that big line of ours.”
Leading the way statistically for the Bulldogs were Bailey, who rushed the ball 24 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns, and Thompson, who rushed the ball 17 times for 129 yards and two touchdowns.
Cressler amassed 77 yards rushing and 74 yards passing while Hayden Gray and Blaine Johnson led the Bulldogs defense by registering 17 tackles and 14 tackles, respectively.
With their record now at 2-0, Dove Creek will enter this week’s homecoming matchup against Sangre de Cristo (0-2) on Oct. 23 ranked eighth overall in the latest Colorado High School Activities Association poll.
While Baughman emphasized that he has been pleased with his team’s play thus far, he noted that his players’ ability to maintain focus heading into this weekend’s game will be key.
“We just have to take things one game at a time,” the Dove Creek coach said. “This is our homecoming week, so we can’t have any distractions. We’ll just come in and focus on Sangre de Cristo.”