|Corrigan Times - Local News
Copyright 2013 - Polk County Publishing Company
Bulldogs fall to Waskom in Region III fi nals, 24-22
By LINDA JACOBS
CARTHAGE—Despite an all out effort, the Corrigan-Camden Bulldogs came up short in their bid to make a run for a third Class 2A Division II state title as the Waskom Wildcats prevailed 24-22 to win the Region III championship in a battle of two undefeated 13-0 football teams. There was great disappointment after the loss, but the Bulldogs can hold their heads high and boast of a super season as they were just one of eight teams left standing in the four Regional fi nals from across the state in the Class 2A Division II playoffs. The 2013 Bulldogs made school history this year by posting the fi rst ever undefeated 10-0 regular season, something neither the 1988 or 2002 state championship teams can lay claim to. The Bulldogs were one of 64 teams that started the playoffs in mid-November and they posted three decisive wins before falling to Waskom on a cold and blustery Friday night in Carthage. "The crazy thing about the playoffs is there's only one happy team at the end of it," commented Corrigan head coach Seven Armstrong, who has guided the Bulldogs into the playoffs for the past 11 straight seasons, twice advancing to the Region III fi nals. "You never put anything past kids and this group of kids, I'm so proud of them. I just told them they're all my kids and I'm proud as heck of them. "They need to be proud of their season as I'm proud of them, their fans are proud of them, their community is proud of them. "We need to be proud of what we did," added Armstrong, "but at the same time, the disappointment out here, as a coach is a wonderful thing to see, because you know how important it was to them and because it was that important to these kids, that's why it was such a successful season." Coach Armstrong said it was a mistake here, a missed tackle there or a busted assignment that proved to be the difference in Friday's game that had the Wildcats staying just one step ahead of the Bulldogs. "It wasn't that we played bad because we didn't, we played our guts out, but offensively, we would have one person make a mistake and that's all it takes against a good football team. It takes one missed block and they've made the play." Corrigan and Waskom were almost mirror images of each other as both squads have terrifi c running games. Waskom had a pair of runners surpass the 100-yard mark, led by quarterback Trace Carter with 136 yards and tailback Kevin Johnson with 126 yards. Carter also connected on a 34- yard touchdown pass to Junebug Johnson. "We knew coming in they had three threats, both of their slot guys and their quarterback were a threat," said Armstrong. Through 13 games this year the Bulldogs had averaged over 400 yards on the ground, but the stingy Wildcat defense limited the Bulldogs to 265 yards on 44 carries Friday night. The Wildcats were able to contain the explosiveness of Keegan Mitchell who only got past the Wildcat defense for two runs of more than 10 yards. Mitchell fi nished with 70 yards on 18 carries. Mitchell, however, has turned in a stellar season, rushing for an amazing 2,387 yards on 192 carries (12.4 avg.) and 29 touchdowns. The damage by the Wildcat defense would have been even greater had Malyk Johnson not rambled for an 88-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter that pulled the Bulldogs to within two points. Johnson has had a terrifi c season as well, rushing for 1,568 yards on 144 carries (10.8 avg.) and 23 touchdowns. "They were probably better defensively than I thought they were, but we knew they were going to be fast and they were fast both offensively and defensively," said Armstrong. "We did a pretty good job defensively containing their speed, but we didn't do a good job offensively containing their speed. We kept getting run down from inside out and we weren't making the blocks we were needing to make to go on and turn that four yard run into an eight yard run or turn that four yard run into an 18-yard run. You have to make those blocks against good people." In the end, the Wildcats did enough on both sides of the ball to secure the Region III title. "We didn't make the plays we needed to make when we needed to make them and that's the whole key to this crazy game, especially in a close one. "There's certain times when you just got to make that play and we didn't always make them." First half The Bulldogs won the open-ing coin toss but deferred to the second half. Waskom marched 13 plays from their own 45 to the Bulldog 10 yard line before electing to kick a field goal after being stopped on fourth and six by the Bulldog defense. Kicker Manny Munoz split the uprights on a 27-yarder to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead with 4:41 left in the opening frame. Corrigan received excellent field position with a 19-yard kickoff return by Cody Rogers to start their first drive at midfield. They advanced to the Waskom 22, but had a pass intercepted at the one yard line. The Wildcats managed to make a couple of first downs and move the ball out to the 25 yard line. On second and six, Kevin Johnson took the handoff from QB Trace Carter but fumbled near the 30 where an alert Kade Moore recovered to set up a short scoring drive for the Bulldogs. Carlos Inguanzo and Keegan Mitchell had a couple of carries apiece to move the ball down to the 18 yard line. Malyk Johnson had back-to-back carries for yardage to the 13. On the next play Addison Kirkland fought his way through the middle of the line to score at the 6:49 mark of the second quarter. Mitchell scored the 2-point run to give the 'Dogs their only lead of the game at 8-3. The Wildcats quickly answered the Bulldog score with a 65-yard run by Kevin Johnson on the first play of the next series. The PAT by Munoz had the Wildcats back in the lead at 10-8 with 6:33 on the clock. Corrigan moved the ball from their own 25 to the Wildcat 20 before coming up short on a fourth and five with :25 seconds left in the half. Second half The Bulldogs could not gain any advantage to start the second half as they managed just six yards on their first possession and were forced to punt. Waskom seized their biggest lead of the game by marching 84 yards in eight plays and scoring on a 34-yard pass from Carter to Junebug Johnson with 5:36 left in the third quarter to take a 17-8 lead. The Bulldogs retaliated by returning the ensuing kickoff 31 yards on a great run by Johnson that set the ball inside Wildcat territory at the 44. Addison Kirkland had a couple of key runs and QB Haden Armstrong advanced on a keeper to move the ball to the Wildcat 27. Three plays later, Carlos Inguanzo scored on a 21-yard run and Kirkland added the 2- point conversion to close the gap to 17-16 with 3:24 left in the third quarter. Unfortunately, the Wildcat offense continued to roll and they answered on the next series by driving the ball 47 yards in eight plays, capped by a 25-yard run by QB Carter to extend their lead to 24-16 with 11:53 left in the game. Both teams were forced to punt on their next two series. Armstrong booted a 59-yarder to put the Wildcats deep in their territory. They later punted from the Corrigan 44 and the Bulldogs would set up shop at their own 16 yard line with just 4:17 left in the ballgame. A penalty on the second play shoved the 'Dogs back to the 12 yard line. From there, Malyk Johnson turned on the jets and scored on an 88-yard run down the left sideline to pull Corrigan to within two points, 24-22. The all-important 2-point conversion came up short when the Wildcat defense stopped QB Armstrong short of the goal line. The Bulldogs had one last hope of recovering an onside kick, but Wildcat Thomas Ford came up with the ball to give the Wildcats possession at their own 47 with 3:10 left in the ballgame. The potent Wildcat offense proceeded to pick up three first downs to maintain possession and run the clock out to collect the Region III championship. Seniors The Bulldogs had a talented group of 13 seniors this year. Hopefully, the 'Dogs can step up and fill their shoes to make another long run in the state playoffs again next year. Playing their final game for the Bulldogs were, Cody Rogers, Haden Armstrong, Kade Moore, Raheim Jones, Carlos Inguanzo, Chris Taylor, Addison Kirkland, Jay Lawson, Mason Chamblee, Jessie Mize, Clay Nash, C.J. Pena and Albert Lopez.