By Albert Trevino
The Corrigan-Camden Bulldogs fought hard, but suffered a 27-22 defeat against the Leon Cougars on Friday
In the road district match in Jewett, the Bulldogs were punched early by Leon, then let some late errors stop a potential winning drive.
“They limited us and put us in a bind trying to score in a hurry,” said Bulldog head coach Brett Ratliff. “We got the ball at the end, but we kept shooting ourselves in the foot. We should have played better early.”
With each lead change, the sense of urgency to pass the ball grew for Corrigan as the Cougar defense held strong when it counted.
“At that point, our run game was out the window, and they did a great job staying disciplined in the secondary,” Ratliff said. “My hats off to Coach Thomas and their players who played really hard. I thought we played hard also.”
The Cougar offense tested Corrigan early with effective option runs and a long catch by senior wide receiver Caden Hughes. This quickly put Leon near the goal line to set up senior running back Gannen Wise to rush for the one-yard touchdown.
Corrigan started things off with a long reverse play, which allowed Bulldog senior Tony Cooper to quickly get into Leon territory. However, a couple of botched handoffs quickly forced Corrigan to punt.
Cougar sophomore Cooper Stevens helped Leon to another scoring drive later by catching it over the middle for a long touchdown pass. The score put the Cougars up 13-0 going into the second quarter.
The Bulldogs started to find new life on their next possession, with freshman Damere Arneson getting a strong run inside the red zone. This helped set up Cooper to make a highly contested catch as he was falling inside the end zone for a Bulldog touchdown. Bulldog junior quarterback Michael Sullivan followed it up on the extra try, taking a bad snap and charging to reach the pylon for two points.
Corrigan’s offense would march down the field again in the late moments of the half. Near the goal line, Sullivan would find the seam on the misdirection play to run inside the end zone for another score. With the extra point, the Bulldogs stole a 15-13 lead at halftime.
The Cougars would come out fighting to start the second half, recovering the opening onside kick to steal a crucial possession. This time, Stephens would run it in to finish Leon’s scoring drive to go back up 19-15 over the Bulldogs.
Arneson fought hard on the next Corrigan possession to get the ball into the red zone. Later, inside the 1-yard line, Bulldog senior Jarius Hood caught the short touchdown pass from Sullivan. After the extra point, Corrigan took the 22-19 lead.
Going into the fourth, Cougar sophomore receiver Landon Thomas made a deep reception to get Leon into Bulldog territory. Cougar senior back Gannen Wise finished it off with a strong effort up the middle for a rushing touchdown to put the Cougars back up 27-22 with a two-point conversion.
The Bulldogs stayed alive on their next possession on a facemask penalty, then again on a Cooper reception. Despite this, Corrigan could not convert a third-straight time and turned the ball over with just minutes left in the game.
It looked like Leon would get the game-winning first down, but fumbled the ball and the Bulldogs would get one last chance. However, a couple of late mistakes in the final seconds kept Corrigan out of enemy territory and short of a victory.
The Bulldogs will play back at home this Friday at 7 p.m. against the West Hardin Oilers.