Football Bulldogs earn homecoming victory

On a night when the Mahomet-Seymour Education Foundation inducted its first Hall of Fame class, the student section and many Bulldog fans wore green to show support for Mattoon after last Wednesday's school shooting.

Before the game Friday, fans on all sides of Frank Dutton Field stood and cheered one another.

During the game, the M-S football team caused five turnovers and recovered two onside kicks to help push past the Green Wave on homecoming night.

"I thought it was a gutsy performance," M-S coach Keith Pogue said. "That game was a lot closer than 40-21.

"That Mattoon team came out after all the stuff they have been through, I admire the way they played this football game."

Late in the first quarter, Mattoon drove the ball to the Bulldogs 5-yard line and was first-and-goal when Bulldog Ryan Emmerd recovered a fumble.

"Turnovers are always key and they were really big for us tonight," Pogue said.

After a couple incomplete passes to open receivers, the Bulldogs were forced to punt.

Mattoon again drove the ball deep into Bulldog territory, but M-S' defense stuffed a fourth-down run to take over the ball with 10 minutes, 13 seconds left in the second quarter.

"We still have so many things (to work on) that we're just on the edge of being good, Pogue said. "We got it done tonight, and I'm pleased with that, but we've got to take a big step if we're going to contend for the Apollo."

The next three offensive series resulted in touchdowns.

On the second play of the next drive, the Bulldogs scored when Jordan Veldman ran the ball for a 70-yard touchdown with 9:37 left in the half.

The 2-point conversion was unsuccessful, leaving the score at 6-0.

On the kickoff, senior Tanner Kirts recovered an onside kick to give the Bulldogs the ball on its own 41-yard line.

Veldman then caught a 40-yard pass that moved the ball to Mattoon's 15-yard line.

Lucas Morgan eventually ran the ball into the end zone from the 8-yard line with 8:44 left in the half. It was the first of two TDs scored by the senior.

Veldman ran in the two-point conversion to extend the M-S lead to 14-0.

Mattoon answered on its next possession with an 86-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard touchdown run with 5:39 left in the half.

The PAT kick was good, trimming the M-S lead to 14-7.

The Green Wave's onside kick attempt failed, and the Bulldogs took over on the their own 47-yard line.

Veldman caught two long passes to place the ball at Mattoon's 18-yard line.

After a run by Dylan Gates, quarterback Dawson Finch hit Emmerd on a fade route for a 12-yard touchdown.

Veldman then ran it in for a two-point conversion, increasing the lead to 22-7 with 3:46 left in the first half.

On its first possession of the second half, Mattoon scored on a 16-yard run from Julian Gittens.

The Green Wave ran in the two-point conversation to tighten the score at 22-14.

In the fourth quarter, after a strong defensive stop, the Bulldogs took two plays to score.

Veldman's 36-yard carry put the ball on Mattoon's 4-yard line, where he ran it in with 9:09 left in the game.

A poor snap squandered the PAT, leaving the score at 28-14.

Veldman finished with 154 yards rushing on 13 carries and 40 yards receiving on four catches to total 194 all-purpose yards.

The Green Wave countered on their next possession with a long drive to the Bulldogs' 11-yard line.

From there, Brock Smith caught an 11-yard touchdown pass, and a successful kick narrowed the lead to 28-21 with 4:55 left in the quarter.

M-S recovered the onside kick on its own 44-yard line.

The Bulldogs shut down any thought of a comeback two plays later when Josh Johnson caught a 56-yard touchdown pass from Finch with 4 minutes left in the game.

Johnson totaled 66 yards on two receptions.

A failed PAT left the score at 34-21.

Finch finished with 159 yards passing on 18 attempts.

To put the game away, the Bulldogs' defense took over on four downs, and then Morgan tacked on a 26-yard touchdown run with 2:54 left.

Morgan finished with 55 yards rushing on nine carries.

Junior Connor Thomason intercepted a Mattoon pass on the next series, which enabled the Bulldogs to run out the clock.

M-S finished with 380 yards of total offense, 221 on the ground and 159 through the air.

"I think we improved quite a bit over last week," Pogue said. "We did some nice things with our pass protection this week. I thought our offensive line played better."

Gates totaled 43 yards rushing on six carries and caught one pass for 26 yards.

Defensively, Tanner Kirts lead the team with 12 solo tackles and 17 total stops. David Pogue had 12 total tackles.

Morgan tallied 11 total tackles and DaunteRoberts had six solo tackles among his total of nine.

Tyler Kirts had an interception and recovered a fumble. Jack Vaughn and Skyler O'Connor each recovered a fumble.

The win improved the Bulldogs' record to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the Apollo Conference, which is where Pogue believed they would beat this point in the season.

"We knew we were front-heavy (on the schedule)," Pogue said. "We knew Washington was outstanding. We knew Taylorville would be a tough out.

"We got a little lucky to beat Mascoutah, to be honest. But we're a little behind from what I thought we'd be in terms of maturity and not making mistakes, but we'll get that fixed."

The Bulldogs will be tested again when they travel to Effingham tonight.

Effingham is 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the Apollo Conference, defeating Taylorville, Mount Zion and Lincoln.

 

JV football

The M-S junior varsity team shut out Mattoon 24-0 on Monday. The junior varsity is scheduled to host Effingham at 6 p.m. Monday at Frank Dutton Field.

 

Freshmen football

The Bulldogs' freshmen football team was beaten by Centennial 60-8 on Saturday morning.

The freshman team is scheduled to play Mount Zion on Thursday.

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