Crucial Plays In Back-To-Back Fashion Spur Bulldogs Comeback
The Trenton Bulldogs found themselves needing a big play midway through the third quarter Friday night in the season opener at C.F. Russell Stadium in Trenton. The Carrollton Trojans had just produced a long scoring drive to take a 14-7 lead over the Bulldogs. Trenton got more than a big play, however; it got two.
A 62-yard screen pass from quarterback Dalton Ellis to Chris Kurtz tied the game and Carrollton fumbled the ball on the ensuing drive. The back-to-back blows spelled doom for the Trojans as Trenton dominated the game from that point, going on to take a 28-14 victory in week one.
“We definitely needed something good to happen on that drive,” Trenton Head Coach Wes Croy said of answering Carrollton’s long scoring drive. “Honestly, we didn’t care if it was 10 straight six-yard runs or one 60-yard pass we just knew we needed to get into the end zone.”
Kurtz, who was on the receiving end of the game-tying touchdown was a playmaker all night, touching the ball five times and gathering 119 total yards, an average of nearly 24 yards per play. Kurtz caught two passes for 87 yards and collected 32 yards on reverse running plays, often times dragging a pack of Carrollton defenders down the field with him.
“We have Chris at that X receiver position right now and we are trying to get the ball to him in various ways because he is such a good athlete and such a threat,” Croy said. “We ran just a little throwback screen to him off our outside veer and the offensive line did a good job of getting out and getting some blocks and Chris just did the rest. He has improved speed and his size and ability to run the ball just finished it off.”
Almost equally detrimental to the downfall of the visiting Trojans was their fumble on the very next drive. Trenton took advantage of the situation turning the costly Carrollton turnover into six points when Travis Leeper capped a short drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. The score gave Trenton it’s first lead of the game at 21-14 with just 31 seconds left in the third quarter.
“If the touchdown by Kurtz wasn’t the key play of the game it was one of two that were,” Croy said. “I thought those two things – the touchdown and the fumble – happening on back-to-back series really gave us an opportunity to control the game. Our kids, to their credit, did just that. When we play well that is kind of the blueprint for our success – we trade blows early and as we get later into the ballgame our physicality takes over. In week one we did that and we were able to get a victory. If we do that consistently on a weekly basis we have an opportunity to have a successful season.”
Trenton sealed the game in the fourth quarter on a long scoring drive led by Colton Neff and Leeper, a pair of sophomore running backs. Neff set up the final blow, picking up 69 yards on five-straight carries and Leeper delivered it with his second touchdown run of the night, coming from 14 yards out. Neff would lead the team in rushing with 126 yards on 23 carries in the game. Leeper had 37 yards and two touchdowns on six carries. Chanse Houghton and Ellis rounded out Trenton’s strong rushing attack with 42 and 39 yards respectively.
“Neff had a good night and he did exactly what we needed him to do,” Croy said. “He ran the ball hard and he does a good job of getting his shoulders square and running down hill. The offensive line did a good job of giving him a crease and Dalton did a great job of reading the option and getting him the ball in the right situations. It was no doubt a team effort and I thought (Neff), Chanse and Travis all three ran the ball really, really well when opportunities were presented to them. They all fell forward and they kept their legs moving when they needed that extra yard.”
With the victory, the Bulldogs established a 1-0 start to the season, something Croy feels is important for team moral.
“It’s vital,” Croy said of the opening week victory. “You don’t win championships or lose championships in week one, but you sure allow yourself to get momentum. You’re not fighting to get back to .500 in week two, you’re fighting to get two games over .500, so I think it’s important in that aspect. I also think it is important mentally. The kids have been working hard all summer and to start off on the right foot and get that win right away kind of raises everyone’s spirits.”
The Bulldogs will look to make it two in a row this week as they travel to Lexington to face Carrollton’s conference-mate. Trenton and the Minutemen will kick off at 7 p.m. Friday.
C – Luke Wonzy 3-yard run (Wonzy kick).
T – Chanse Houghton 1-yard run (Jonathan Lamp kick).
C – Keaton Sullivan 1-yard run (Wonzy kick).
T – Chris Kurtz 62-yard pass from Dalton Ellis (Lamp kick).
T – Travis leeper 2-yard run (Lamp Kick).
T – Leeper 14-yard run (Lamp kick).
First Downs 15 13
Rushes-Yards 51-276 41-201
Passing Yards 107 43
Comp.-Att.-Int. 4-6-0 3-10-1
Total Yards 383 244
Penalties-Yards 6-30 2-20
Fumbles-Lost 4-1 2-1
Punts-Avg. 2-31 2-40
RUSHING – Trenton, Colton Neff 23-126; Chanse Houghton, 13-42; Dalton Ellis, 6-39; Travis Leeper, 6-37; Chris Kurtz, 3-32. Carrollton, Ridge Mathis, 15-105, Keaton Sullivan, 14-59, Luke Wonzy, 12-37. PASSING – Trenton, Ellis, 4-6-0, 107 yards, 1 TD. Carrollton, Wonzy, 3-10-1, 43 yards. RECEIVING – Trenton, Chris Kurtz, 2-87; Bailey Owen, 1-16; Aaron Anderson, 1-4. Carrollton, Mathis, 2-39; Sullivan, 1-4. INTERCEPTIONS – Trenton, Houghton, 1-1. Carrollton, none. PUNTING – Trenton, Ellis, 2-62, 31 avg. Carrollton, Wonzy, 2-80, 40 avg. KICKOFF RETURNS – Trenton, Charlie Hoffman, 1-14; Novie Rorebeck, 2-12. Carrollton, 2-24. DEFENSE – Trenton, Troy Hanes, 10 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 fumble recovery; Trey Shields, 10 tackles, 1 TFL; Garrett Runnels, 10 tackles; Josh Davis, 7 tackles, 2 TFL; Houghton, 7 tackles, 1 int.; Hoffman, 7 tackles, 2 TFL; Travis Gilbertson, 6 tackles, 2 TFL; Neff, 5 tackles; Cree Mullenix, 4 tackles; Wilson Utley, 3 tackles; Leeper, 3 tackles; Gavin Griffin, 2 tackles; Dakota Schultz, 2 tackles; Kurtz, 1 tackle; Owen, 1 tackle.