Bulldogs stun Hurricanes 21-15 on Nelson's TD catch
By Tim McGrath BCC Sports Writer
Bandera Bulldog senior wide receiver Noah Nelson scored the game-winning touchdown with a sensational catch beyond the back line of the end zone. Nelson pulled down a perfectly thrown pass from senior quarterback Joe Rodriguez as the home team Bulldogs stunned the visiting Sam Houston Hurricanes 21-15 on Friday night, August 29, at Bulldog Nation Stadium.
Nelson's amazing grab came with just three seconds remaining in the game and was the result of a remarkable individual effort. With the score at 15-13 in favor of Sam Houston and 11 seconds remaining on the game clock, the Bulldogs faced a third-and-goal situation at the Hurricane 10. With still enough time for two plays, Bandera Head Coach David T. Sine made the decision to take one shot at a touchdown with a pass to the back of the end zone while leaving enough time on the clock for a fourth down field goal attempt if necessary.
On the play, Rodriguez tossed up a perfect throw, high and to the back line of the end zone where Nelson, who was well covered by a pair of Hurricane defenders, made a diving catch beyond the back line and managed to drag his feet inbounds for a Bulldog touchdown with just three seconds remaining in the game.
It was Nelson's second touchdown reception of the night, having hauled in a 31-yard scoring toss from Rodriguez in the first half. The game started out as a defensive battle as both teams looked for ways to move the football consistently.
The Bulldog defense was most impressive throughout the night but the Hurricanes got on the scoreboard first when Devin Harris sprinted 50 yards for a touchdown at the 8:44 mark of the second quarter to take a 6-0 lead. The PAT attempt was no good.
The Bulldogs answered with Nelson's 31-yard TD reception from Rodriguez with 5:38 left in the first half. Nelson tacked on the point after to put the Bulldogs up 7-6.
The second half began with more defense until the Hurricanes Juan Lazano booted a 25-yard field goal to give Sam Houston a 9-7 advantage with 2:36 left in the third period. In the final period of play, the Hurricanes struck quickly as wide receiver Leontrey Thomas went deep to grab a touchdown pass from Raymonte Prime. The PAT again failed but the Hurricane lead was extended to 15-7 with 11:44 remaining in the game.
The Bulldogs then took control of the game and went on a scoring drive of their own that was capped off by senior fullback Corey Jennings' one-yard touchdown dive with 8:27 on the fourth quarter clock. The Dawgs attempt on a two-point conversion was no good so the Hurricanes maintained a 15-13 advantage at that point.
Later in the period Sam Houston was moving the ball downfield until the Bulldog defense came up with a big play to turn the game around in the final minutes. Senior safety Landon Ventura intercepted a Hurricane pass and returned it to the Sam Houston 44-yard line where the Bulldogs took over with just 2:49 left on the clock.
Rodriguez then guided the Bulldogs on their final touchdown drive culminating with Nelson's game winning grab at the finish. Alex Willoughby-Gonzales scored the final two points on the successful conversion.
Rodriguez finished the night 12 of 17 passing for 119 yards and 2 touchdowns while Nelson garnished offensive MVP honors with 5 catches for 78 yards and a pair of scores. Leading rushers for the Bulldogs included Alex Willoughby-Gonzales with 11 carries for 72 yards, Jennings (6-44) and Ventura (13-34). Leading receivers included Nelson (5-78-2 TD), Ventura (3-11), Willoughby-Gonzales (2-11), Averie Mansfield (1-13) and Brayton Schmidt (1-6).
The defensive leaders for Bandera included Mansfield with 14 total tackles, Willoughby-Gonzales with 9, Nick Andreas with 8 and Jennings with 7 total tackles including 3 for losses. Jennings also had 4 quarterback pressures and a fumble recovery to earn the Defensive Player of the Week award.
Other Player of the Week awards went to Willoughby-Gonzales (Special Teams), Utah Hicks (Offensive Lineman) and Wyatt Clemenson for the Big Hit of the week.
Sine had much praise for his Bulldog team and pointed to his coaching staff and the "conditioning factor" as keys to the Bulldog success against Sam Houston. "I am very fortunate to have a wonderful coaching staff who have worked extremely hard and deserve a lot of credit for the win on Friday night. Our conditioning was also a factor and our kids showed that they were in better shape to finish the game than our opponent," Sine said.
The Bulldogs continue play on Friday, Sept. 5, when they travel to Ingram to take on the Tom Moore Warriors of District 13-3A Div l. The Warriors defeated Junction 49-25 on the road last week and will be playing at home for the first time on their new turf field at Ingram.
Sine is expecting a big effort from Ingram and a bigger test for the Bulldog defense. "We are going to get Ingram's best effort. They are very explosive on offense and this will be another test for our defense," Sine remarked.
Kickoff at Ingram will be at 7:30 pm. On Friday, Sept. 12, the Bulldogs will host San Antonio Christian Academy.