Spencer Gatlin hounded the West Grand Mustangs all afternoon.
He finished with seven total tackles, but even when he wasn’t making the tackle, he was making the play.
The 6-foot-3, 260-pound senior was unblockable, throwing West Grand linemen out of his way in pursuit of Mustang ball carriers.
The Mustangs scored on a 56-yard touchdown rush on their second play from scrimmage, but they would not score again.
With Dove Creek leading 42-6 late in the third quarter, West Grand quarterback Brady Gore dropped back to pass.
Gatlin immediately busted into the backfield in pursuit of Gore, with Ricky Adams and Scott Gatlin close by.
Then, realizing the play was a designed slip-screen just as Gore flicked the ball to a nearby running back, Gatlin planted his foot in the ground and changed directions, following the pass.
After catching the screen, Mustangs running back Antonio Corrales was wrapped up and rolled by Case Baughman, and the ball popped loose.
Who was there to collect the fumble?
Spencer Gatlin, of course.
And after scooping up the fumble, he raced 40 yards down the sideline for a touchdown, with brother Scott knocking the only possible tackler out of bounds with a block.
For Gatlin, who does much of the dirty work on the line and seldom receives the recognition he deserves, the touchdown was well earned.
The Bulldogs would go on to win the game 48-6, and Gatlin and his fellow linemen were largely responsible.
Not just defensively, but also offensively.
The Bulldogs marched down the field with ease, scoring on their first three drives. And much of their success was due to Gatlin, Beau Hemphill, Dante Gallegos and Ricky Adams opening up running lanes.
In the third quarter, Baughman went 15 yards untouched for a score, after Hemphill, Adams and Scott Gatlin opened up a hole on the left side wide enough for him to drive through.
Baughman had 111 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the day, and Ernst and Scott Gatlin also benefitted from the stellar blocking. Ernst rushed for 117 yards and a score and Gatlin ran for 59 yards and a touchdown.
Ernst also passed for 146 yards and two touchdowns, one to Colin Hobbs for the game’s first score, and another on a 9-yard pass to Adams.
The win advances the Bulldogs to the second round of the playoffs, where they will host the Norwood Mavericks on Saturday.