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Bulldogs stave off Buna for 21-20 win

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091522 crockett vs bunasCrockett's Courtney Byrd (72) and Deshun Sandles (45) put pressure on Buna quarterback Toby Marse in last week's non-district road game. Photo by Larry Lamb

By Larry Lamb
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BUNA — Pivotal fourth quarter plays by the Crockett Bulldogs secured a hard-earned 21-20 win over the Buna Cougars on Friday night.

Buna (0-3) led 14-7 at halftime and was threatening to extend its lead late in the third when Crockett’s Ajani Ellis picked off a pass and returned it to midfield. Starting at their 36 after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the Bulldogs later overcame a fourth-and-long situation when quarterback Jadyn Collins hit Tywoin Delane for 13 yards and a first down at the Buna 18. The goalward push continued and Collins scored on a five-yard run.

Crockett turned a botched PAT kick into a two-point conversion. Devin Bedford picked up the ball and threw to Zandric Anderson to put the Bulldogs in front 15-14 with 7:00 left in the game.

An interception by Bedford at Buna’s 49 provided another opportunity. Collins carried for 36 on the first play and an unsportsmanlike penalty on Buna put the ball at the 7. Collins finished the drive with a 1-yard plunge for a 21-14 lead with 4:30 left. A high snap on the PAT was recovered by kicker Angel Castillo.

Buna started its next possession at the 26 yard line and quickly moved to Crockett's 9 with a 59-yard pass from Toby Marse to Jacob Johnson, who later scored on a 1-yard blast to make it 21-20 with 2:33 left. Crockett’s Blake Jones nailed Johnson short of the end zone on the conversion to preserve a one-point lead.

The Bulldogs recovered a Buna pooch kick at their own 39 and had a chance to increase the lead after Tywoin Delane broke a 36-yard run to the 2 yard line, but they were content with running out the clock.

“Everybody says a game comes down to a handful of plays. That play by Blake Jones to stop Buna’s two-point conversion, us turning a botched extra point into a two-point conversion, and that pass from Jadyn to Tywoin on fourth down were three pivotal plays,” said Bulldog head coach Alton Dixon.

“I’m very proud of the kids. There was some adversity and some self-inflicted stuff, but all in all there were things that we have to clean up, especially on special teams, that could have cost us the game,” said Dixon in reference to a high snap on a punt and extra point. “It was a long bus ride but coming home with a victory made it bearable.”

The game was scoreless until the second quarter when Buna scored on a 10-yard run by Johnson. The Cougars kicked the PAT to lead 7-0 with 7:03 left.

Crockett answered right back on its next possession after Jahkeim McKnight escaped for a 50-yard run to the Buna 19. Delane carried to the 8 and Corey Simon picked up five to set up a three-yard TD by Collins. Castillo kicked the PAT to knot the score at 7-7 with 5:07 in the second.

Buna was forced to punt on its next series but got the ball back at the Crockett 39 when the ball touched a Bulldog. Buna scored on a seven-yard run by Johnson and tacked on the PAT for a 14-7 lead with just over two minutes left in the half.

The Bulldogs rolled up 412 total yards of offense while Buna finished with 264 yards.

Crockett completed 2 of 7 passes for 20 yards and picked up 392 on the ground.

Buna had a more balanced attack, picking up 130 yards rushing and 134 passing. Cougar quarterback Marse was 7 of 14 with two interceptions.

Collins ran the ball 22 times for 135 yards (6.14) and Delane had 19 carries for 160 (8.4). McKnight carried the ball one time for 50 yards. Simon had 4 carries for 16 yards.

Collins' two receptions were a 13-yarder to Delane and a seven-yarder to Bedford.

Dixon said he was impressed with the leadership skills displayed by several players, especially his senior quarterback.
“When we were in the locker room at halftime several guys stood up and exhibited leadership. One was Jadyn, who talked about penalties, especially the self-inflicted penalties. He basically sounded like a coach and said everything I would say. He did a great job seeing the field, seeing the situation and addressing it. I’m very proud of that young man for taking that leadership role and how he’s owned it the entire time,” said Dixon.

Dixon described Collins as a “difference maker,” noting the crucial fourth-down play early in the fourth quarter. “Jadyn gets the ball out to Tywoin (Delane) on the edge for 13 yards and we get the first down,” he said.

“I’m very proud of the offense, but there are things we have to get cleaned up such as holding penalties, false starts, snaps and most importantly unsportsmanlike and personal fouls. That right there is a killer,” said Dixon.

“The game did get chippy but we must understand that it’s always the second person that gets called for the penalty. We looked at the video and we’re the second person. That’s not going to cut it. That’s something I’m disappointed in and we’re going to have a discussion about it today.”

Dixon noted the Bulldogs racked up 200 yards in penalties to Buna’s 120.

Crockett’s defensive leaders were Anderson with 5 tackles and 1 PBU; Lockhart with 4 tackles, 5 assists, 1 PBU and 1 hurry; Courtney Byrd with 3 tackles, 1 assist, 1 sack and 1 hurry and Jones with 3 tackles and 2 TFL.

Ellis had 3 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PBU and an interception he returned for 38 yards. Bedford had an interception and 3-yard return. Simon, Jim Carruthers and Tristan McGraw each had 2 tackles.

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Football results, schedules

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090822 results scores

District 9-3A DI

Week 1 Scores
Rusk 53, Crockett 21
Buffalo 18, Westwood 14
Diboll 33, Kirbyville 24
Coldspring 34, Splendora 7
Shepherd 30, Tarkington 14
Frankston 33, Huntington 15
Woodville 23, Newton 22

Week 2 Matchups
Crockett (1-1) at Buna (0-2)
Shepherd (1-1) at Orangefield (1-1)
Woodville (1-1) at Liberty (0-2)
Coldspring (2-0) at Hamshire-Fannett (1-1)
Diboll (1-1) at Franklin (2-0)
Huntington (0-2) at Tarkington (1-1)
Palmer (2-0) at Westwood (1-1)

District 11-2A DI

Week 1 Scores
Lovelady 45, Grapeland 8
Timpson52, Jefferson 29
Alto 48, West Sabine 22
Beckville 42, Joaquin 41
Shelbyville hosts Hemphill
Garrison 28, Arp 21
Tenaha 12, San Augustine 6

Week 2 Matchups
Bremond (2-0) at Grapeland (0-2)
Timpson (2-0) at Daingerfield (2-0)
West Sabine (0-2) at Hemphill (2-0)
Shelbyville (1-1) at Elysian Fields (0-2)
Garrison (2-0) at Warren (1-1)
San Augustine (0-2) at Alto (1-1)
Tenaha (2-0) at Joaquin (1-1) (Sat.)

District 11-2A DI

Week 1 Scores
Lovelady 45, Grapeland 8
Timpson52, Jefferson 29
Alto 48, West Sabine 22
Beckville 42, Joaquin 41
Shelbyville hosts Hemphill
Garrison 28, Arp 21
Tenaha 12, San Augustine 6

Week 2 Matchups
Bremond (2-0) at Grapeland (0-2)
Timpson (2-0) at Daingerfield (2-0)
West Sabine (0-2) at Hemphill (2-0)
Shelbyville (1-1) at Elysian Fields (0-2)
Garrison (2-0) at Warren (1-1)
San Augustine (0-2) at Alto (1-1)
Tenaha (2-0) at Joaquin (1-1) (Sat.)

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Bulldogs have rough night in Rusk

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090822 bulldogs vs ruskCrockett running back Tywoin Delane (11) finds a lane as Corey Simon (9) and Dylan Porter (2) block the Rusk Eagles. Photo by Larry Lamb

By Larry Lamb
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RUSK — The Crockett Bulldogs ran into a buzzsaw in the form of class 4A Rusk on Friday night.

Rusk (2-0) struck for six long-distance touchdowns to upend the Dogs 53-21.

Despite scoring on passes of 55, 70, 83 and 80 yards, the Eagles only led 27-14 at halftime.

The Bulldogs made it interesting when they scored on their first possession of the second half to make it 27-21. But the quick-striking Eagles stretched their lead to 47-21 in the third quarter and scored again on the first play of the fourth.

“Our most glaring problems were special teams and ultimately us not playing in rhythm as a football team," said Crockett head coach Alton Dixon. "We come out and get a defensive stop on Rusk's first possession. But our offense doesn't convert on third down and we have to punt. It happens again on our next two drives and we have to punt. We weren't in rhythm."

Rusk amassed 436 yards passing and 167 on the ground for a total of 603.

Senior quarterback Aiden McCown hit 14 of 27 passes for 436 yards, including five touchdowns and one interception. Wide receiver Elijah Ward led Rusk with 10 grabs for 319 yards and three touchdowns.

"We were struggling defensively giving up one-play and two-play scores, and those things just piled up on us,” said Dixon.
Rusk’s defense held the Crockett's offense to 247 total yards.

Tywoin Delane carried 12 times for 133 yards, an average of 11 yards, and Jahkeim McKnight picked up 17 yards on 4 carries, including 1 TD.

Quarterback Jadyn Collins carried 15 times for 59 yards and scored one rushing TD.

Collins, 2 of 8 in the passing department, threw a 20-yard TD strike to Devin Bedford.

Rusk threatened on its first possession but was stopped at the 11 yard line on fourth down. The Bulldogs went three-and-out but got the ball right back on an interception by Ajani Ellis. After another Crockett punt, Rusk scored on a 55-yard pass from McCown to Ward with 1:43 left in the first and tacked on the PAT.

Rusk recovered its own onside kick but was forced to punt and pinned the Bulldogs back inside their 1 yard line. Crockett was unable to dig out of the hole and an interception gave Rusk the ball at the 25 yard line.

A fourth-down defensive stand by Crockett at the 21 yard line energized the Bulldogs. Crockett marched down the field on the running of Collins, Delane and Corey Simon before going to the air for a 20-yard touchdown strike to Devin Bedford. Kicker Angel Castillo's PAT knotted the score at 7-7 with 6:11 in the half.

Rusk went back in front 14-7 on a 70-yard bullet from McCown to Brailen Trawick and PAT with 5:50 left.
Another onside kick by Rusk was recovered by Courtney Byrd but the Bulldogs again had to punt.

Taking over at their own 17, the quick-striking Eagles exploded when McCown hit Ward on the first play for an 83-yard touchdown. The conversion failed, leaving the Eagles with a 20-7 lead with 3:23 before halftime.

Crockett answered right back with a 77-yard scoring drive. Delane carried for 29, McKnight picked up 14 and Collins carried to the 24 yard line. Collins pitched to Delane for a 20-yard gain, setting up a 4-yard TD by McKnight. Castillo’s PAT made it 20-14 with 1:57 left.

An 80-yard TD pass from McCown to Ward pushed Rusk’s lead to 27-14 with 1:10 left in the half.

"Us being down two scores is nothing in our minds because we know what can do defensively. We know what we can do offensively. We've shored up some things with our PATs. Our punts and kickoff returns are things we're going to get fixed. We critically have to get those things fixed,” said Dixon.

Crockett returned the second half kick and drove 55 yards to close the gap. Delane broke a 45-yard run to set up a 4-yard TD by Collins. Castillo closed the gap to 27-21 at the 9:58 mark in the third.

Rusk went up 33-21 on its next series when McCown reeled off a 51-yard keeper. Simon broke up a two-point conversion pass.

The Bulldogs mishandled a pooch kickoff and Rusk recovered at the Crockett 39. The Eagles scored on a 14-yard pass to Rojo, who kicked the PAT for a 40-21 lead with 6:41 in the third.

Rusk needed just two plays to travel 72 yards for its next score. McCown hit Ward on a 42-yarder and found Mason Trowbridge on a 30-yard TD to go up 47-21 with 4:48 left in the third.

On Crockett’s next possession a low punt snap set up Rusk’s offense at the 10 yard line. Trowbridge scored from 6 yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter to stretch the lead to 53-21 with 11:54 left. The PAT was no good.

"I was pleased with our quarterback play, with our run defense and our ability to move and press the pile. There were things we did that were good. This a great lesson for our kids and we're moving forward," said Dixon.

"There was a little lingering of Week 1 into Week 2," Dixon said in reference to the Bulldog's upset win over Marlin.

"Nobody's going to lay down for us. Nobody's afraid of us. We're going to have to impose our will on people week in and week out on a consistent basis."

McKnight had 4 tackles, 1 assist and 2 PBU. Simon had 3 tackles and 3 assists while Dylan Porter had 3 tackles and 1 assist.

Among the linebackers, Zandric Anderson topped the tackle chart with 14 solo stops and 2 assists. Bryson Burton logged 4 assists and 3 tackles while Jonathan Lockhart had 3 solos and 3 assists.

In the defensive line, Courtney Byrd booked 7 solo tackles, 3 assists, 1 TFL and 2 sacks.

Tristan McGraw had 2 solos and 2 assists along with a fumble recovery. Jim Carruthers had 1 tackle, 6 assists and 1 sack.

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Lions reclaim county bragging rights over Grapeland

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090822 lions reclaim bragging rightsGrapeland's Trey Gilmore (14) chases Lovelady's Skylar Pipkin (12) in last week's game in Sandie Stadium. Photo by Lawanna Monk

By Lawanna Monk

GRAPELAND — Lovelady rolled to 2-0 on the season with a 45-8 win over Grapeland Friday night in the first gridiron meeting in two years between the county rivals.

The Sandies got off to a shaky start when a high punt snap was quickly recovered by Lovelady's Landen LeBlanc at the 11 yard line.

Lion quarterback Shaun Easterling picked up eight on the first play and Dayvian Skinner stormed into the end zone from three yards out on the next play. Easterling ran the conversion to make it 8-0 with 10:06 on the clock.
Grapeland's next possession began at its own 44 after a short kickoff by Skinner. Quarterback Johnny Lamb handed off to Trey Gilmore for a short gain but two incompletions forced another punting situation.

After a high punt rolled dead at the Sandie 43, Jordan Blackmon carried to the 24 and Easterling reached the 14 before the defense stiffened. A six-yard sack and a penalty moved the Lions back five more to the 25.

Grapeland's Maleek Johnson nailed Easterling for a 10-yard loss to force a punt by Skylar Pipkin that went into the end zone for a touchback.

After a three-and-out series, a Grapeland punt rolled dead at the Sandie 47. Skinner started off with a 5 yard pickup and Easterling carried the next two plays for gains of 5 and 11 yards to the Sandie 26.

Pipkin made his way to the 9 yard line before being brought down by Grapeland defender Keavy Bruins. Blackmon ran to the 6, where Easterling dived across the goal line on the next play.

Blackmon ran the two-point conversion to put the Lions up 16-0 with :48 left in the quarter.

Another defensive stand by the Lions gave them an opportunity to extend their lead before halftime.

Jayton Crawford returned a Grapeland punt 15 yards to the Sandie 45, but a penalty on the Lions brought the ball back to their 47.

Lovelady struck quickly to take a 24-0 lead with :21 left in the half. Easterling picked up 14 on first down and then found Oscar Sutton on a 39-yard touchdown strike. Easterling carried for the two point conversion.

The Lions stretched their lead early in the second half with a seven play, 58-yard scoring drive.

Crawford fielded Grapeland's kickoff by Trinity Miller and returned it to the Lion 42. Skinner started the series with a 26-yard run aided by a down field block by Crawford before Grapeland defender Bruins made the stop. Easterling added 4 and then connected with Brandon Fry on a 14-yard toss that put the Lions at the 14.

After Skinner carried to the 11, Blackmon reached the 3 but was stopped at the line of scrimmage by the Sandies on the next play. Easterling capped the drive on a 3-yard blast and threw to Pipkin for the conversion that put the Lions up 32-0 with 8:20 left in the third.

In the fourth quarter, the Lions only had to travel 14 yards for their next touchdown after a Sandie punt went awry with a bad snap.

Cortavies Whitaker, who saw most of the action in the series, scored on a 6-yard run for a 38-0 lead with 9:31 left in the game. The extra point kick was no good. Whitaker had two runs for six yards and Alan Baskin picked up two yards.

Grapeland spoiled the Lions' shutout on its next possession with a two-play, 64-yard scoring drive.

The Sandies took over at their own 36 after a short kickoff by Skinner. Quarterback Johnny Lamb connected with Omarian Wiley for 28-yards on first down and the two seniors combined on the next play for a 36-yard TD strike. The Sandies successfully went for two points, closing the gap to 38-8 with 9:16 left.

After Whitaker returned the kickoff to the Lion 33 yard line, Lovelady only needed two plays to score. Baskin only managed two yards on the first play but the offensive line opened up a gaping hole on the next play.

Whitaker shot out of the back field and was off to the races for another TD. Skinner tacked on the extra point to make it 45-8 with 8:29 left.

Another Lovelady touchdown run by Baskin from 35 yards out was called back on a penalty.

The Lions defense was everywhere and gave up very few yards on the ground while also shutting down Grapeland's passing game.

Shout-outs go to Ben Monk, Cody Davis, Skylar Pipkin, Jackson Jeffries, Oscar Sutton, Blake Patrick, Terrelle Easterling, Alvaro Gonzalez, Landen LeBlanc and Troy Shupak.

Making key defensive plays for the Sandies were Maleek Johnson, Jax Vickers, Wyatt Lewis, Braelon McDaniel and Nick Rae. Trey Gilmore and Will Smith also saw action on the offensive side.

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090822 week two matchups

Crockett at Buna
7:30 p.m. Friday

The Bulldogs (1-1) are facing a 130-mile bus ride for this week's matchup with the Cougars (0-2).
Buna lost its season opener to Corrigan-Camden 28-21 and is coming off a 23-20 loss to class 4A DII Bridge City.

The Cougars had a chance to pull out a win late in the game against Bridge City. Facing fourth-and-24, Buna quarterback Toby Marse found Kaden Dill on a 23-yard toss to the Cardinal 21, but it was a yard short. Bridge City took over and ran out the clock.

The Cougars are picked fourth in District 10-3A DI, which includes Orangefield, Anahuac, East Chambers, Kirbyville, Hardin and Cleveland Tarkington.

Buna (2-9, 2-4) returned six starters on offense and nine on defense from a team that made the playoffs with only two district wins.

Jacob Johnson is Buna's top rusher while Kayden Dill and Landon Stephens are the primary receivers.

In sub-varsity action Thursday, the JV Dogs (1-1) will host Buna at 5:30 p.m. The junior high teams open the season on the road against Buna starting at 5 p.m.

Iola at Lovelady
7:30 p.m. Friday

The Lions (2-0) are gunning for their third straight win against the visiting Iola Bulldogs (1-1).

Iola opened the season with a 12-0 loss to Snook and broke into the win column last week by edging Normangee 43-22.

Lovelady has won the last two meetings with Iola by scores of 28-12 in 2020 and 15-6 in 2021.
Iola returned seven starters on both sides of the ball from a team that won just two district games.

Bremond at Grapeland
7:30 p.m. Friday

Bremond comes into Sandie Stadium boasting a 2-0 record after dominating wins over Normangee 53-0 and Kerens 57-14.

This is the second of a three-game home stand for the Sandies (0-2), who close out non-district next week against Groveton.

Bremond, a class 2A DII squad, is blessed with eight returning starters on offense and nine on defense from a team that reached the regional semifinals and finished with a 6-7 record.

Quarterback Braylen Wortham returns after a strong freshman start and is picked Preseason Offensive MVP for District 13-2A DII.

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