By KATIE WIGGINS
News Sports Writer
The J.U. Blacksher Bulldogs came out on top in an area game against the Southern Choctaw Indians, winning 42-39, Friday, September 8. The Indians were plagued with 14 penalties throughout the game, while the Bulldogs had 6 penalties. The offensive captain for the game was senior Jacob Bowman. The defensive captains were seniors Dillan Baldwin and Taylor Graham.
The first quarter was scoreless, but Blacksher made some big plays. Senior Tanner Weaver started things off with a 24-yard kick-off return. Quarterback Cooper Dean completed a 33-yard pass to Weaver, after losing yards on the previous play due to a bad snap. Junior Landon Mura was able to tip a pass by the Indians which resulted in an interception and 14-yard run by Weaver.
In the second quarter, the Indians’ running back scored the first touchdown of the night. A Southern Choctaw’s blocked punt, which was recovered by Justin Heffington, got the Bulldogs on the Indians’ 30-yard line. Four plays later, Bowman rushed for a touchdown. The Indians answered back with another rushing touchdown. Dean completed a 40-yard touchdown pass to KD Rabb to put the Bulldogs back on top. With 3:23 left in the second quarter, the Bulldogs lost an impact player, Landon Mura, to a leg injury. Southern Choctaw was not down for long and managed to score another rushing touchdown. Their 2 point conversion attempt was no good. At halftime, the score was 14-19, Indians.
The third quarter started off on a good note for the Bulldogs when Dean completed an impressive 82-yard pass to Weaver for a touchdown. Dean then rushed for a 2-point conversion. Blacksher was on top with a score of 22-19 with 6:09 left in the third quarter. The Indians immediately responded with a touchdown on a kickoff return. The Indians were not able to capitalize on their 2-point conversion attempt. The score was 22-25, Indians.
After a 35-yard kick-off return by Weaver and a pass to Taylor Graham, Blacksher got back into the red zone and Bowman rushed for another touchdown. Dean’s extra point attempt was good, giving the Bulldogs the lead, 29-25. Jadaniel Nettles recovered a Southern Choctaw fumble. Dean ended the third quarter with a 33-yard rushing touchdown, making the score 35-25, Bulldogs. Senior Dillian Baldwin proved to the coaches he was ready to come off the injured list and entered the game, making some impressive tackles.
The fourth quarter consisted of another rushing touchdown for the Indians, bringing the score to 35-31, Bulldogs. Weaver had a 35-yard kick-off return, a 9-yard run, and was able to get the first down in a fourth down and 4-yard situation. His touchdown run was called back due to a holding penalty.
The Bulldogs made their final touchdown when Dean completed a 19-yard pass to Heffington with 3:02 left in the game. Dean’s extra point attempt was good, bringing the score to 42-31, Bulldogs. Southern Choctaw did not give up and scored a 55-yard touchdown pass with 1:19 left in the fourth quarter. However, Weaver was able to break up a pass attempt during their 2-point conversion attempt. This resulted in a score of 42-39, Bulldogs. The Bulldogs ran down the clock and took victory formation.
On offense, Dean completed 6 out of 18 passes for 238 yards and 3 touchdowns. Weaver had 115 yards on 2 receptions and 1 touchdown. Graham had 49 receiving yards on 1 reception. Rabb had 46 receiving yards on 2 receptions and a touchdown. Heffington had 19 receiving yards on 1 reception for a touchdown. Bowman had 54 rushing yards on 13 carries with 2 touchdowns. Dean had 39 yards on 10 carries with one touchdown. Weaver had 33 yards on 9 carries.
Graham led the defense with 11 tackles and 2 for a loss. Kane Singleton had 7 tackles, 4 for a loss, and 1 sack. Lane Sims had 6 tackles, 1 for a loss. Bowman had 7 tackles. Weaver had 1 interception.
When asked about the game, head coach Wes Sims said, “Overall, I was pretty pleased with our effort. I was proud of our kids. We probably played as hard as we’ve ever played since I’ve been here. We had some adversity we had to overcome and the kids responded. We had some injuries early in the game, we gave up some big plays, and we had several opportunities to lay down and quit, but we didn’t do it. Our kids played with a lot of heart.”
Sims believed their third quarter was the best that they have played in a long time. He went on to say, “I’m proud of our coaching staff. They had a great plan put together.”
Blacksher has had several injuries this season, and Sims hopes to get them healthy in the near future. Sims ended his statement by saying he is proud of his kids and they are looking forward to next week.
The Bulldogs play another area game against Choctaw County on Friday, September 15, at home.