By Linda Jacobs
CORRIGAN—A well-balanced offensive attack by Shepherd handed the Bulldogs their third loss of the season, as the Pirates plundered and pillaged to a 41-12 win in Bulldog Stadium Friday night.
Junior quarterback Nick Truelove accounted for 191 of the Pirates 389 total yards, completing 4-of-7 passes for 130 yards and adding 61 yards rushing. Truelove connected on a 67-yard scoring strike, plus ran for a three-yard touchdown to lead his team to their second win of the season in as many weeks.
The Bulldogs started the game on a promising note, when FreDarion Johnson stripped the ball from Brandon Cheeves on the opening kickoff, leading to a 23-yard scoring drive and a 6-0 lead with just a minute off the clock.
Unfortunately mistakes took their toll, as the Pirates capitalized on two Bulldog fumbles and the home team found themselves down 27-12 at the break.
"At halftime, we had made some key mistakes. We were down two touchdowns and should have been in the game," commented Bulldog head coach Seven Armstrong.
The Pirates scored 14 unanswered points in the second half as fatigue took a toll on the Bulldogs. "We got worn down tonight. We got tired in the fourth quarter, so we're going to have to work on that," said Armstrong. "That's a huge football team and they just wore us down.
"We're going to play ourselves into shape eventually and I still think we got better tonight. I think we were better than we were last week. We just weren't better for long enough. We got tired in the fourth and that's not supposed to happen."
On the opening kickoff turnover, Johnson flew down on coverage and stripped the ball to give the 'Dogs possession at the Shepherd 23 yard line.
The Pirate defense held Corrigan to just one yard in three plays, but on third and nine, Jaylon Williams rambled to the six-yard line. The Pirates were also charged with a personal foul, which moved the ball to the three-yard line.
An offsides penalty against Corrigan pushed the ball back to the eight, but on the next play Williams rushed around the left end to score with 11:00 on the clock. A point after try by Zack Ivie was wide left, leaving the margin 6-0.
The Pirates answered on the following series, driving the ball 64 yards in 10 plays and scoring on a three-yard keeper by Truelove with 6:41 left in the opening frame. Magdiel Torres split the uprights for a 7-6 Pirate lead.
The Bulldogs mishandled the ensuing kickoff and the ball bounced into the hands of Josh Cronin at the Bulldog 35-yard line. Only one play was needed when Trevor Moye (9-for-65 yards) scooted the distance to score at the 6:29 mark. Torres booted the extra point to extend the lead to 14-6.
The Bulldogs were unable to take advantage of two Shepherd fumbles during the game. The first miscue followed a Corrigan punt, which gave the home team excellent field position at the Pirate 40, but the Bulldogs went three-and-out on the series.
The Pirates took over at their own 41 and in one play had another six on the board. Kameron Wright, the game's leading rusher (11 carries for 115 yards) dodged a defender and escaped to the end zone to give the Pirates a 21-6 lead with 2:36 left in the opening frame.
The Bulldog defense held the Pirates on their next possession, stopping them short on a fourth and six play at the Bulldog 16-yard line.
Top tacklers on the series included, Johnson, Williams, Ivie, Thomas Casper, Hugo Sanchez, Alex Vance, Ashton Jones, Tyreke Foreman, Alan Casper, Latrail Bailey and Terrell Cook.
Corrigan would take possession, run 14 plays and advance to the Pirate 30, but fumbled for a second time to halt the drive.
The Pirates needed just one play, as Truelove connected a 67-yard touchdown pass to Devonte Hamilton with 1:02 left in the half, stretching their lead to 27-6.
DeMetre Howard returned the ensuing kickoff 40 yards to give the Bulldogs excellent field position at the Shepherd 39 to set up a quick score before halftime.
Williams and quarterback Ty Love carried twice for nine yards. On third and short, Love connected a 13-yard pass to Johnson for a first down at the 17. Two plays later, on third and six, Love hit Zack Ivie in the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown with seven seconds left in the half. An incomplete pass on the conversion made it a 27-12 game at the break.
The Bulldog offense was stifled in the second half and held to just six first downs. On four possessions, the 'Dogs fumbled, punted twice, and failed on fourth down inside Pirate territory.
After a scoreless third, the Pirates tacked on two touchdowns in the fourth frame, scoring on a four-play, 66-yard drive with 11:53 on the clock. Truelove had a 50-yard toss on the drive and Wright got the touchdown on a 10-yard run to extend the Pirate lead to 33-12.
Shepherd's final score covered 63 yards in eight plays, capped with a 16-yard run by Moye with 2:03 left in the game. A fumbled snap on the point after turned into a two-point pass when Truelove hit T.J. Robinson in the end zone for the game's final margin, 41-12.
The Bulldogs leading rushers were Williams with 85 yards, followed by Love with 47. Howard and Johnson added 20 and 19 yards, respectively.
Love was 4-of-9 passing for 57 yards and a 13-yard touchdown toss to Ivie. His top receiver was Johnson with two catches for 37 yards.