By Clint Andersen
The Gordon-Rushville Mustang football team celebrated Parents’ Night in style Friday evening as they downed the Bridgeport Bulldogs 26-13. The Mustangs again gained most of their yards on the ground and the defense held the Bulldog offense in check until late in the fourth quarter as they cruised to the win.
The Mustangs took the opening kickoff and ground out a relentless drive that finally ended at the Bulldog 22. After two successful fourth down conversions in Bridgeport territory, the Mustangs couldn’t convert for the third time and turned the ball over on downs. The Bulldogs offense went three-and-out before a bad snap on and attempted punt set the Mustangs up at the Bridgeport 13. 2:40 later, the Mustangs found pay dirt when Thomas Sandoz scored on 4th and goal from the two yard line to give the Mustangs a 6-0 lead.
Bridgeport returned the ensuing kickoff to their 43 yard line, but fumbled the ball on second down. The Mustang offense took the field at the Bulldog 45 yard line and needed just two plays to score. Tristan Tuma connected with Shane Child on an 18 yard pass, and Brandon Bailey went around the left end for an easy touchdown run. The Mustangs successfully converted the two-point try and held a 14-0 lead with 10:42 left in the second quarter.
The Bulldog kick return team again gave them great field position when they started from their 44 yard line. On the third play of the possession the Bulldogs attempted a long pass, but it was intercepted by Lex Haller and returned to the Mustang 25. After moving the ball to the Bulldog 35, the Mustangs again turned the ball over on downs.
After three-play drives and punts by Bridgeport, the Mustangs, and again by Bridgeport, Gordon-Rushville took over at the Bulldog 38 yard line with 1:48 left in the first half. After a penalty moved the Mustangs back, it was third and 16 from the Bulldog 46 when Tristan Tuma kept the ball and ran down the right side where he was pushed out of bounds at the 1 yard line. On the next play, Thomas Sandoz crashed over the goal line to give the Mustangs a 20-0 halftime lead after the PAT was no good.
The second half started with short drives and punts by both teams – two by Bridgeport and one by the Mustangs. Following the second three-and-out by the Bulldogs, the Mustangs faked a reverse after fielding the punt and returned it to the Bridgeport 30 yard line. The Mustangs moved the ball inside the Bulldog 10 and on 4th and goal from the seven, Kyle Anderson hauled in a pass in the end zone that stretched the lead to 26-0 after another missed PAT with 2:57 left in the third quarter.
On the following kickoff, the Mustangs used a squib kick to neutralize the outstanding Bridgeport kickoff return unit. The result was a short kick that caught Bridgeport off guard and allowed the Mustangs to fall on the live ball, setting the offense up on the Bulldog 40 yard line. The Mustangs drove inside the Bulldog 5 before a fumble gave the ball back to Bridgeport at their own thee yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Bulldog offense couldn’t move the ball and punted, but the Mustangs fumbled on first down to set Bridgeport up at their own 37 yard line.
With a 26 point lead in the fourth quarter, the young Mustang team may have begun to let up and allowed the Bulldogs to score their first points on a 63 yard drive with 6:50 left in the game. The two-point conversion failed and the score was 26-6. Following a failed onside kick, the Mustang offense was unable to move the ball and gave it back to the Bulldogs at the Bridgeport 36. The Bulldogs again moved the ball down the field and scored another touchdown. The score was now 26-13 with 1:58 left in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs tried another unsuccessful onside kick and the Mustangs ran out the clock to salt away the victory.
The final statistics do not fully reflect the dominant performance by the Mustang defense. The Mustangs outgained the Bulldogs 275 to 203 and held the ball for a five minute time of possession advantage. Of the Bulldogs’ 203 yards of offense, 127 of those came on the two late fourth quarter scoring drives.
With the win, the Mustangs even their record at 3-3 while the Bulldogs fall to 1-5. The Mustangs will have a week off before heading to winless Ogallala on October 12.