Football Bulldogs even season record at 1-1

The Mahomet-Seymour football team utilized a foursome of running backs last Friday night in Charleston to help win the Bulldogs' first ever Apollo Conference game.

Bulldog running backs rushed for a combined 258 yards and scored two touchdowns on the way to a 24-12 win over the Trojans.

"I thought all of our guys ran well," coach Keith Pogue said. "You have to consider we had a makeshift line a little bit.

"We had to shift some guys around for injuries and some other things. They were blocking hard, but there was some confusion and our backs made something happen when they weren't there."

After losing 41-0 the previous week to the state's Class 5A No. 2-ranked Washington team, the Bulldogs needed a big play early to regain confidence, but the first few series did not work out as M-S had hoped.

On the first possession of the game, Charleston drove the ball 66 yards (from its own 34-yard line) to score on a 6-yard run by Cam McDonald with 9:44 left in the first quarter.

The extra point attempt was blocked, leaving the score 6-0.

To set up the touchdown, Trojans quarterback Seth Higgins completed 5-of-6 passes, including an 11-yard reception on third down.

On the kickoff return, M-S senior Josh Johnson fumbled, giving the ball right back to Charleston on the Bulldogs' 29-yard line. The Bulldog defense stopped the Trojans on four downs, but the first offensive series for M-S did not go as planned either.

Junior quarterback Dawson Finch was sacked on the first play, and after a catch by junior Dylan Gates and an incomplete pass, M-S punted.

The Trojans were in position to again score when they returned the punt 35 yards to the M-S 16-yard line.

After Charleston ran the ball and had two incomplete passes, Bulldog senior Ben Stahl sacked Higgins on fourth down to give M-S possession.

The next Bulldog possession, junior Jordan Veldman gave his team what they had been looking for since the start of the season: A game-changing play.

With 5:28 left in the first quarter, Veldman broke free for a 47-yard run to the Trojans' 34-yard line.

Veldman and Gates took turns running the ball down to the 4-yard line, where Gates punched it in with 3:12 left in the opening quarter for the team's first touchdown of the year and the first ever in the Apollo Conference.

The Bulldogs took the lead 8-6 when Veldman ran in the two-point conversation.

The scoring drive totaled 81 yards on six plays.

With 3:44 left in the first half, M-S put together its second scoring drive.

On the first play of the drive, Veldman busted free for an 18-yard gain, and on the next play, Finch scrambled free before connecting with junior Connor Thomason.

A run by Gates and a juggling catch by Veldman placed the ball first-and-goal on the 10-yard line.

Veldman ran the ball to the 5-yard line on first down, before punching it in on second down with 1:16 left in the half.

This time Gates ran in the two-point conversion, giving Pogue's team a 16-6 lead.

"We still need some maturity in the passing game," Pogue said. "We have a lot of talent there, and we just have to trust each other and work on it.

"They were giving us a lot in the passing game, and we've got to figure out how to take advantage of some of those things."

The second scoring drive covered 55 yards on six plays.

Gates finished the game with 41 yards on 14 carries, and he caught one pass for eight yards.

Veldman totaled 123 yards rushing on 17 carries, the longest a 49-yard run, and he had one reception for 17 yards.

On the Trojans' first possession of the second half, senior Tanner Kirts intercepted his second pass of the game (his first was with 9:21 in the second quarter) and returned the ball to the Charleston 35-yard line.

The game-changing turnover led to a Bulldogs score during their ensuing possession.

Finch connected with Thomason for a 30-yard touchdown with 6:03 left in the third period.

"We had a nice drive stall out at the start of the half, and we handed the ball back to them a couple plays later," Pogue said, "but we get that pick and then we jammed that down (to score), I thought that was the turning point."

M-S extended its lead to 24-6 lead when Veldman took the ball on a handoff, then passed to Johnson for the two-point conversion.

Johnson finished with 74 yards on three receptions, and Thomason tallied two catches for 38 yards.

With help from a facemask penalty and a personal foul, Charleston answered on the next drive with a 49-yard touchdown pass from Higgins to Griffin Green with 4:20 left in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs' defense forced Charleston to punt and caused a fumble on the Trojans first two possessions.

The Bulldogs put the game away on the Trojans' third possession of the fourth quarter when junior Hunter Berg recorded his second sack of the night on a fourth-down play with 5:40 left in the game.

Berg totaled a team-high 10 tackles, including eight solo stops.

Charleston got the ball back once but had to punt and M-S ran out the clock to clinch the win.

Senior fullback Lucas Morgan finished with 68 yards on 10 carries, and senior Tyler Kirts ran the ball five times for 26 yards.

Take away the Trojans' first offensive series and the penalties from their second scoring drive, and the Bulldogs defense played a strong game.

Morgan tallied nine total tackles and Stahl ended with eight.

The win evened the Bulldogs' overall record at 1-1 and improved the Apollo Conference mark to 1-0.

Tonight, the Bulldogs will host Dawgapoolooza before playing Mascoutah.

"Mascoutah is extremely athletically talented and they're going to throw the ball all over the yard and they're going to be hurry-up," Pogue said.

"In some ways, I think those things play to our strengths. That was an impressive win by them, so we're going to have to take another step forward if we're going to be competitive."

In a road game last week, Mascoutah (1-1) knocked off Mattoon, 48-9.

Because of Dawgapoolooza, tonight's kickoff has been pushed back until 7:30 at Frank Dutton Field.

JV football

The Mahomet-Seymour junior varsity football team defeated Charleston 20-6 at home Monday night.

Bulldogs Gage Granadino, Skyler Yancy and Clay Hubble each ran for a touchdown.

Hubble also ran in a two-point conversion.

Defensively, Jack Koller recorded an interception.

"The boys worked really hard," junior varsity coach Henry Turek said. "The offensive and defensive lines took over the game in the second half, allowing us to pull away."

The junior varsity football team is scheduled to travel to Watseka for a 6 p.m. game Monday.

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