By Albert Trevino
The Corrigan-Camden Bulldogs were eliminated in a 68-7 blowout loss to the Timpson Bears in the opening playoff round Friday.
Up against the juggernaut Timpson offense with Bear senior quarterback Terry Bussey, the Bulldogs struggled in the bi-district playoff match in Lufkin.
“When you go against the best [player] in the state, any little mistake you make is taken advantage of,” said Bulldog head Brett Ratliff. “We kept grinding and doing what we could to make some headway, but we made mistakes at times.”
Corrigan’s outgoing seniors had one more opportunity to test themselves against the state’s top-ranked Bears. Ratliff also expressed his pride in training the students since his first year as head coach in 2020.
“Our seniors are the first group I had from freshman all the way up. They are going to be better men for what we went through. Both the good and bad.” Ratliff said. “To go out [this year] against maybe the best in Texas, I can swallow that a bit better.”
The Bulldog offense suffered a three-and-out to start, then Timpson found various ways in the run game to methodically move down the field. Despite a fair effort from the Bulldog defense, Bussey found senior Amari Bruton open in the end zone for the first touchdown.
Bulldog freshman running back Damere Arneson made a tough third-down catch to move the chains. However, Bear sophomore Braylon Parker would intercept soon after to steal possession.
This was immediately followed by a long touchdown reception by Bear sophomore receiver Chris Nickleberry. That extended the Timpson lead 14-0 late in the first quarter.
On the next Timpson drive, Bussey scrambled to find Nickleberry open for another long touchdown going into the second quarter.
After a pick-six by Bussey later in the second quarter, the Bears added insult to injury with an onside recovery in the next kickoff.
Bruton finished that drive by punching in a short touchdown run.
Bulldog senior Bayden Lawrence caught an interception late in the half, but Bruton would respond with another Timpson pick-six.
Bear sophomore Dacorian Johnson later scored his first touchdown to help make it 54-0 game going into halftime.
With the clock running in the second half, Timpson further stretched their lead with touchdowns from Bruton and Johnson.
In the fourth quarter, Corrigan’s offense had one last breath with a successful drive, sparked by some quick catch-and-run plays into the red zone.
On fourth-and-short from the 5-yard line, Bulldog sophomore quarterback Wiliam Ratliff would scramble left and find a path into the endzone for Corrigan’s single touchdown and extra point.
After the game, Ratliff stated work and preparation for next football season will start quite early for his returning players. The team will look to build on what was impactful this season during district play.
“Every game is going to be a fight. It will be a violent physical contest,” said Ratliff. “At times, I thought we were more physical and we have to be more consistent with that. It is time to create that grit.”