By Barrett Steed
PALESTINE—The Crockett Bulldogs took on the Arp Tigers in the Regional Semi-final round of the State Playoffs on Friday, November 25.
After last week’s victory over the Clifton Cubs, the Bulldogs looked to continue on their road to state against the dangerous Arp Tigers. A costly fumble for Crockett would give the Tigers an early possession in the first quarter and the shift in momentum would force the Bulldogs to overcome an early 6-0 deficit. In the second quarter, Crockett would answer with a touchdown and take the lead, but Arp would tack on another score to make the score 12-7 heading into the locker rooms. In the third quarter, the Bulldogs would kick a field goal and score a touchdown, but were unable to keep the Tigers out of the end zone, tying the score 18-18. In an explosive fourth quarter for both offenses, both squads would be tied in the final seconds, but a game winning field goal from Arp would end Crockett’s season, edging out the Bulldogs 35-32.
Coach Thompson commented on his team’s performance on the night, “We had people in position to make plays, but we didn’t make them. You have to make plays. And we just didn’t make them. We made one too few.”
Coach Thompson continued, commenting on the Bulldogs’ 2016 season, “We had a good year, we have good kids and I enjoyed working with them. We had a lot of fun, but if you don’t win your last one it ain’t much fun.”
The frustration throughout the contest was quickly overshadowed by the grief felt on the field and by the fans, ending a phenomenal 2016 Crockett Bulldogs season and a great effort by the squad and the seniors.
To kick-off the game, Crockett would begin on offense first. An on-side reception by junior Marcus Smith would give the Bulldogs great field position to start their drive. Crockett would amass decent yardage on a reverse to sophomore Alton Owens, but a fumble at the end of the play would turn the ball over to the Arp Tigers.
Taking over at their own forty-seven yard line, the Tigers would look to capitalize on their early possession. A fifteen yard reception brought to a halt by senior Dekedrian Rollins would put Arp’s line of scrimmage at the thirty-two yard line. Junior Derrick Sherman would quickly make his presence known, stifling the Tigers’ progress. Sophomore Dae’Javon Bibbs and senior Tren’shun Dixon would bring down the ball carrier to bring up third down and six. And senior Lucky Daniels would join in the effort, forcing fourth down and one at the twenty-seven yard line. Daniels would again step up on defense, preventing a quarterback sneak and a first down, resulting in a turnover.
Crockett would look to strike back at Arp. A fifteen yard penalty after a run by Sherman would set the Bulldogs up at their own forty-two yard line. Great pressure and pass coverage from the Tigers would result in two incompletions to start the series, but senior quarterback B.J. Anderson would connect with Daniels to get a first down. Sherman would break free on the next play, driving the ball to the twenty-two yard line, but would lose the ball, once again putting it into the hands of the Arp Tigers.
Relentless all season, the Bulldogs defense would come out looking for a big play. After a Rollins tackle to set up second and five, a huge fumble recovery by Bibbs would give Crockett another shot on offense near the Tiger red zone. A short burst by Daniels carrying the ball through the middle would be followed with two pass-attempts falling incomplete. Anderson would connect with Daniels on screen pass, but the senior would be tripped up just before converting the first down.
Arp would make the most of their possession and score on a sixty-five yard drive with just under two minutes remaining in the first quarter to lead the Bulldogs 6-0.
The Bulldogs would start their first scoring drive in the last minute of the first quarter. After an onside reception by Dixon to give Crockett great field position, two solid runs from Daniels and Anderson would bring up third and short, an offside penalty on the Tigers would put the Bulldogs on the Tigers’ forty yard line. A sweep from Sherman to end the quarter, set Crockett at the thirty-four yard line.
Richardson would kick off the second quarter, gaining hard-earned yardage on a sweep towards the sideline. Junior Ahmad Brown would take the ball and along with Daniels grind the ball into the defensive line for a first down. Brown would be unstoppable in the red zone, putting the ball in from six yards out for a touchdown. The extra-point attempt from senior Ricardo Ramirez would be good, and the Crockett would take the lead 7-6 over Arp.
The Tigers’ first offensive drive of the quarter would see three first downs as they marched down the field. Poised for another touchdown, Arp set up on the thirty-one yard line with a fresh set of downs. A big hit from Brown to bring up a long second down would force the Tigers to elect to pass. With the pressure on and coverage tight, Richardson would make a heads-up play, pulling down an interception with just over four minutes remaining in the quarter.
A completion from Anderson to Daniels to convert third down would be followed with an offside penalty. Anderson looked to regain ground, connecting with senior Keshaun Smotherman for an eight yard pick-up. Hard running from Brown would be countered by a costly false start penalty, forcing the Bulldogs to punt the ball on fourth down.
With less than a minute remaining and great field position, Arp would put the ball into the end zone before the end of the half, leading the Bulldogs 12-7.
Arp would receive the ball to begin the third quarter. Just three plays in the drive and seventeen seconds into the second half, the Tigers would manage to score from sixty-four yards out, increasing their tally to 18-7.
The Bulldogs would answer in their next drive. A forty yard field goal from Ramirez looked to tighten the gap 18-10.
With the momentum from a huge field goal by Ramirez, the Crockett defense took the field looking to turn the tide of the ball game. Two stops by Sherman and a great effort from a host of Bulldogs would bring up an early fourth down. But the Tigers would manage a first down. After crossing mid-field, an offside penalty would bring up second and long. The next play, Daniels broke through the line, wrapping up the quarterback and recording a sack. A great third down effort by Arp brought up fourth down and five yards remaining. A big hit from senior Lonzo Rogers would cause a Tiger turnover, giving the Bulldogs the ball at their own forty-eight yard line.
With just four minutes remaining in the quarter, the first play of the drive, quarterback B.J. Anderson would throw a strike to the speedy Alton Owens. The play would result in a fifty-two yard touchdown. Still down two points, the Bulldogs elected to attempt a two point conversion. Anderson would once again connect with Owens, bringing the score 18-18.
Arp set up shop at the twenty-two yard line. A huge hit by Bibbs to start the drive seemed to close the Tigers’ running lanes, but the next play Arp would break a touchdown run to recapture the lead. On the extra-point attempt, Dixon manage to disrupt the kick, holding the score 24-18 with the Tigers on top.
The next series, Crockett would quickly hit back. A tough run by Owens would be followed by a sharp strike from Anderson to Daniels for a forty-nine yard touchdown. The extra-point attempt from Ramirez was good and the Bulldogs recaptured the lead 25-24 at the end of the third quarter.
A defensive stop to begin the final quarter of the game with give Crockett an early offensive possession. Despite the opportunity afforded to the Bulldogs, the three play drive led to a punt. Tough pressure from the Tigers’ defense disrupted the timing of the punt, giving them great field position.
Arp would quickly score to increase their lead 32-25. But undeterred, Crockett would begin their final offensive drive of the game.
Starting the drive, Daniels would head straight into the Tiger defense. Anderson would connect with junior Lataveon Jones on second down. And Anderson would find Brown on a third and long, but fall just short of the first down marker. Anderson would make up the difference, quickly amassing the six yards needed for a first down. With a fresh set of downs, a connection to Owens and hard runs from Brown and Daniels, the Bulldogs were knocking on the Arp goal line with just over a minute remaining. A joint effort by Anderson and Brown to put the ball into the end zone was successful and the extra point attempt allowed Crockett to tie the ball game 32-32.
With less than a minute remaining. The Tigers would fire on all cylinders to get the ball across midfield. Great efforts by Bibbs and Rogers would force Arp to overcome a huge deficit. But a fourth down penalty would put the Tigers in range of a field goal with just three seconds remaining. The kick would be good, putting Arp on top 35-32 as the final seconds ticked away.
The loss to Arp Tigers caps off an exciting and phenomenal 11-2 season by the 2016 Crockett Bulldogs.