Bulldogs power past Bears 34-14
By Tim McGrath BCC Sports Writer
Senior running back Killian Conner rushed for 200 yards and three touchdowns to power the Bandera Bulldogs to a 34-14 victory over the LaVernia Bears in a rain soaked non-district football encounter played on Friday, Sept. 28, at Bulldog Stadium in Bandera. The Bulldogs also put on an impressive defensive performance that limited LaVernia to 264 total offensive yards for the game while recovering three of four forced Bear fumbles.
The victory by the Bulldogs improves their season mark to 2-3 while the Bears fall to 1-4 on the year with the conclusion of the non-district season. This week will be an open week for all teams as they prepare for District play which gets underway on Friday, Oct. 12. On that day, the Bulldogs open District 27AAA play against the 2011 State Champion Wimberley Texans at Wimberley.
The Bulldogs played their best game of the new season against the Bears but lost their starting quarterback, senior Michael Miller, to a leg injury that will keep him on the sidelines for several weeks.
Miller and the Bulldogs got off to a fast start against the Bears and led 20-0 at the halfway mark of the second quarter. Conner scored the first of his three touchdowns on a 1-yard run that capped off a 7-play, 87-yard drive following the recovery of a Bear fumble at the Bandera 13-yard line. Sophomore linebacker Averie Mansfield stripped the ball from a Bear ball carrier and recovered the pigskin for the Bulldogs on the play that seemed to ignite the Bulldog team effort for the remainder of the night.
Shane Montooth tacked on the PAT following Conner's score and Bandera led 7-0. The Bulldogs increased their lead to 13-0 early in the second period when Conner burst in from two yards out for his second score.
Later in the second quarter, Miller connected with sophomore Noah Nelson on a 19-yard pass for a Bulldog touchdown followed by a Montooth PAT to put Bandera ahead 20-0 with 7:06 still remaining until halftime.
LaVernia struck back with a pair of scores before intermission to cut the margin to 20-14 in favor of the Bulldogs.
Miller went down with an injury halfway through the third period with the Dogs leading 20-14. Nelson took over the quarterback chores for Bandera and the Bulldogs expanded their lead to 27-14 when Conner dashed 18 yards for his third score of the night and Montooth connected on the PAT with 3:23 left in the period.
The Bulldog defense continued to shut down the Bear offensive efforts and extended their lead to 34-14 when Nelson tallied on a 9-yard run with only five seconds remaining in the third quarter. Montooth again provided the PAT as the Bulldogs went on to their second consecutive victory on the season. Bandera Head Coach and Athletic Director Larry Prince heaped the praise on his team's effort against the Bears and talked about the loss of Miller on the field. "We will miss Michael on the field but he will be very close to the team as he recovers," Prince said. "He is a leader for us and a very important part of this team, maybe more now than before."
"The whole team really stepped it up for this game and a lot of players got really involved in this winning effort," Prince said. "Killian Conner did exactly what we asked of him and got those extra two and three yards that made a big difference in the game."
"Our defense brought excellent pressure when we had to and we had a solid effort by everybody up front. The same can be said of our offensive line, they were putting it to them all night," Prince explained.
The Bulldog defensive front includes Aaron Shackleford, Chase Haddad and Corey Jennings. Bulldog linebackers include Mansfield, Ishmael MacNeil, Ethan Greven and Jacob Berger. The Bandera offensive line includes tackles Hunter Prince and Logan Breen along with guards Lucas Taulli and Mitchell Keese. Travis Whitefield anchors the Bulldog offensive line at center and Dillon Erskine is the tight end for Bandera.
Bulldog offensive stats against LaVernia included 411 yards rushing with Conner leading the way with 29 carries for 200 yards and three touchdowns. Miller rushed for 164 yards on 24 tries while Nelson added 21 and a score on 4 attempts. Caleb Beauchamp carried three times for 16 yards for the Bulldogs.
In the passing department, Miller finished with 5 completions in 8 attempts for 72 yards and a touchdown while Nelson went 2 of 3 for 25 yards. Nelson also had a pair of catches good for 46 yards and a touchdown. Beauchamp had three catches for 34 yards and Mike Davis one for 13 yards for the Bulldogs.