By KATIE WIGGINS
News Sports Writer
J.U. Blacksher came out on top in the battle of the Bulldogs Friday night. The J.U. Blacksher Bulldogs beat the Washington County Bulldogs 24-23 within the last seconds of the football game thanks to a field goal kick by Cooper Dean. The offensive captains for the night were junior Lane Sims and senior Dustin Graham.
The defensive captain was senior Taylor Graham, and the special teams captain was senior Cooper Dean.
Blacksher won the coin toss and opted to defer to the ball. Blacksher was able to stop Washington County in the red zone and took over on downs. Blacksher was unable to do anything and were forced to punt. Washington County was first to score. Blacksher answered back when Taylor Graham rushed 9 yards for a touchdown. The Blacksher Bulldogs’ 2-point conversion was good because of a completed pass from Dean to senior Logan Crosby. At the end of the first quarter, the score was 7-8, Blacksher.
The second quarter started shaky for the Blacksher Bulldogs when there was a fumble in the end zone and Washington County recovered the ball. They took advantage of the fumble and Washington County scored another touchdown. Washington County’s onside kick was fumbled and recovered by Lane Sims on Blacksher’s 48-yard line. Washington County threw an impressive 59-yard pass for a touchdown. Blacksher answered back when senior Jacob Bowman ran 3 yards for a touchdown. At halftime, the score was 15-21, Washington County.
In the third quarter, Washington County got a safety. J.U. Blacksher fans booed several times due to controversial calls by the referees. During kickoff, Washington County fumbled the ball and ran into the end zone. Before Blacksher had a chance to tackle for a safety, the referees blew the whistle, giving Washington County a touchback. The Blacksher Bulldogs retaliated and took over on downs at the 42-yard line. The score at the end of the third quarter was 15-23, Washington.
The fourth quarter consisted of a 22-yard pass from Dean to senior Dillan Baldwin, which helped the Blacksher Bulldogs when Dean ran 11 yards for a touchdown, making the score 21-23. Blacksher’s defense forced Washington County to punt. With 2 minutes and 19 seconds left in the game, Blacksher made their last drive. On second and 17, a 40-yard pass from Dean to Baldwin set the Blacksher Bulldogs up for success, putting them on the 4-yard line with 42 seconds left in the fourth quarter. After running the clock down to 8 seconds, Dean’s field goal kick was good, giving the Blacksher Bulldogs the lead. The final score was 24-23.
Baldwin, who made several key catches for Blacksher, gave a statement after the game saying, “I tried to execute what Coach Sims called. Cooper Dean made some very good throws and I just tried to do everything I could to help my team win.”
When Dean was asked about his winning field goal kick, he said, “There was about 20 seconds left and we had a chance to run another play. Coach Sims opted to run it down to about 8 seconds and give us a chance for a game winning field goal. The snap from Tanner Weaver was great. The hold from Logan Crosby was great. Everybody on the line did their job and we watched it sail through to victory.”
Head coach Wes Sims also gave a statement after the game saying, “I was overall very pleased with our kids tonight. It was an exciting game. Things didn’t go our way several instances. Our kids could have laid down, but we kept fighting. Defensively, in the second half, we played great. It was a great win for our program and a big win for our kids and I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
On offense, Dean completed 12 out of 19 passes for 169 yards. Baldwin had 5 catches on the night for 115 yards. Weaver had 3 catches for 35 yards. Bowman had 18 rushes for 75 yards and 1 touchdown. Taylor Graham had 5 rushes for 55 yards and 1 touchdown. Dean had 10 carries for 40 yards and 1 touchdown.
On defense, Dillan Baldwin had 16 tackles and 1 forced fumble. Crosby had 8 tackles. Bowman had 6 tackles and 1 sack. Taylor Graham had 6 tackles and Justin Heffington made 8 tackles.
J.U. Blacksher plays their rival, the Excel Panthers, on Friday, September 29, at Excel.