LEESVILLE - Conotton Valley improved to 3-0 with a 26-21 win over visiting Bridgeport here saturday afternoon, the first 3-0 start for the Rockets since the 1995 season.
Bridgeport fought back to take the lead in the fourth quarter, and when the Bulldogs recovered a fumble on Conotton's final drive, it looked like head coach Rudy Vavrock's squad could begin celebrating.
The initial signal from the officials was a turnover by the Rockets, but after a discussion the crew reversed their call and gave the ball back to the Rockets.
BRIDGEPORT’S Bradley Pritchett (3) stiff arms Conotton Valley’s Terry Tope during action Saturday in Leesville. The Rockets rallied for a 26-21 victory to improve to 3-0. Additional images can be found at cu.timesleader-online.com
The Bulldogs defense forced a fourth-and-10 on the 35-yard line, but the Rockets converted by finding 6-7 Brandon Bailey for the yardage to move the chains. Four downs later with the game on the line, Conotton Valley quarterback Colton Cottis found Zack Lyon from six yards out for the game-winning score.
"That was Colton's third read and he found the tight end dragging across the flat," said Conotton Valley head coach Eric Schumacher. "I told him before the play to be confident."
On the other sideline, the Bulldogs saw their victory slip away.
"We had them in three fourth-and-10s on that last drive and could not stop them," Vavrock said. "I can't fault our effort, but it is a very disappointing loss for us."
The Bulldogs had started the game with a miscue on the opening possession as the punt snap sailed high over QJ Williams, giving the Rockets excellent field position on the Bulldogs' 18.
Six plays later, Conotton Valley's Keaton Carrothers ran around the right side, scampering the remaining six yards for the score. The extra-point was no good and it was 6-0 Rockets.
The Bulldogs began on their own 39 and drove to the Rockets' 6 where the drive stalled. A fourth-and -hort came up less than an inch shy of the stick, and the Rockets took over on downs.
Bridgeport's defense held the hosts to a three-and-out and ended up with good field position, starting from the Rockets' 39. This time the Bulldogs would capitalize, capping the drive with an 11-yard strike from Bailey McGrath to Colin Cooper. The extra-point was no good, re-setting the game at six apiece with 11:50 remaining in the first half.
The remainder of the second quarter saw the two squads trade punts until, with just under two minutes remaining, Carothers intercepted a pass at midfield. The Rockets took advantage of the turnover as Tommy Rodriguez hauled in a Cottis pass and raced to the corner for the score.
Bailey's PAT was good and the Rockets were up 13-6 at the half.
Conotton would get the ball to begin the second half and marched 68 yards on 11 plays to jump out to a 20-6 lead with 8:05 showing in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs showed some resiliency on their next drive as they countered with a scoring drive. McGrath called his own number in racking up rushes of 16 and 10 yards to cross midfield. Dallas Fields broke into the secondary on a 12-yard run to move Bridgeport inside the red zone. McGrath then found Bradley Pritchett down the right sideline for a touchdown, and then hit Pritchett on the same play to the opposite sideline for the 2-point conversion.
The Bulldogs trailed 20-14 with 4:38 left in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs would finally catch a break as a Rockets' punt would spin out of bounds at their own 37 yard line. This drive would take just four plays as Fields broke into the secondary from 20 yards out, broke one tackle and cruised into the end zone to knot the scoreboard at 20-all. The PAT split the uprights to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the contest, 21-20, with 5:49 left in the game.
McGrath was 6 of 12 passing for 60 yards and a TD with three picks. Collins was his favorite target with 32 yards on five catches. Fields led the Bulldogs rushing with 58 stripes on 16 touches. Bailey toted six times for 33 yards and Pritchett ran up 43 stripes on five attempts as the Bulldogs rushed for 135 yards.
The Rockets rushed for 175 yards, led by Taylor Bowdish with 43 stripes. Cottis was 8 of 17 for 90 yards and two TDs.
The Bulldogs drop to 1-2 and will return to action next Friday as they host Frontier.
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