Athletics are about responding to adversity.
Bridgeport head coach Rudy Vavrock has to be pleased with how his team responded.
After a gut-wrenching loss to open the season last week, Vavrock watched as his young Bulldogs pulled out an exciting 20-19 victory over Toronto, Friday night at Perkins Field.
BRIDGEPORT’S Dallas Fields tries to keep his balance as a Toronto defender dives at his legs during the first half of Friday’s game at Bill Jobko Stadium. The Bulldogs rallied for a 20-19 victory. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
"I am extremely proud of the effort our young men put forth tonight," Vavrock said after his team evened its mark at 1-1. "We have a very young team and it really came together in the second half."
Bridgeport, which has but three seniors, will hit the road next Saturday afternoon at Conotton Valley.
"This was a game of momentum," Vavrock added. "Fortunately, we were able to make the plays at the end when we needed them most."
The Dogs took the opening kickoff and marched on a nine-play drive that culminated in Patrick Britton busting in from 16 yards out. The kick failed, but Bridgeport owned a 6-0 lead with 7:45 showing in the first.
After trading possessions, Toronto answered with promising freshman quarterback Blaze Glenn finding a wide-open Charles Ross III for a 42-yard TD. The kick hit the upright and the score was knotted 6-6.
Late in the first half, Bridgeport was forced to punt from deep in its territory and the subsequent return and a face mask allowed Toronto to set up shop at the Dogs 20-yard line. One play later, junior Chez Glenn busted through from four yards out. The snap was mishandled and Toronto took a 12-6 lead to the half.
After a Toronto three-and-out, Bridgeport put together a nine-play drive with senior standout Dallas Fields scoring from two yards out. The kick failed and the score was 12-12.
"That was big to open the second half," Vavrock explained. "We forced a three-and-out and then put together a nice drive to get some momentum back."
It was short-lived, however.
Toronto needed just five plays to cover 53 yards with Blaze Glenn pushing in from a yard out. Zach Price was right on the PAT and it was 19-12 Red Knights with 4:58 left in the third.
Bridgeport went to work immediately as Fields made a man miss in the backfield and broke free for a 54-yard run to the Toronto three. Three plays later, sophomore Bailey McGrath kept around right end for the TD. Holder Colt Charlton rolled out and found Fields for the two-point conversion as the Dogs went up 20-19 with 1:42 left in the third.
Toronto mounted one more threat, driving to the Bulldog 15-yard line, but Chance Watson tracked down Blaze Glenn on a keeper to turn the Red Knights over on downs.
"That was a huge play by Chance," Vavrock said as his Dogs got the ball back and ran out the final 4:32 that included a fourth down sneak by McGrath for a first down.
Fields finished with 31 totes for 175 yards behind an offensive line of Bailey Sieber, Brandon Brown, Michael Jaworski, Jared Heslop, Brad Tomolonis and Watson. Tight ends Colin Cooper and QJ Williams also blocked well.
"Dallas ran really hard tonight and our O-line did a great job of opening some running lanes," Vavrock said.
"When we needed to move the ball tonight our guys up front did the job."
Defensively, Britton covered a fumble and shared a sack with Cooper, who also picked off a Red Knight pass.
Toronto, which fell to 0-2 on the young season, will face another tough test next Friday night when Shadyside visits the Gem City.