SADLER — The Howe Bulldogs played like their namesake in their non-district match up against the S&S Rams, showing a strong running game and a brick wall of a defense in a 41-20 victory on Friday night.
Howe (2-0) didn’t waste any time putting points on the board, with a 94-yard drive capped off by a slick 19-yard run by Austin Lee for a 6-0 Bulldog lead.
The Rams (0-2) made a costly mistake with their first snap of the ball game, with the snap sailing over Cole Sloan’s head and was recovered by the Bulldogs on the Rams 20-yard line.
Cameron Blesi, who totaled 133 yards on 17 carries, had a punishing run up the middle to quickly score the Bulldogs’ second touchdown of the game and it was a 12-0 advantage five minutes into the contest.
The Bulldogs were not done with their first-quarter offensive barrage. A crisp 74-yard drive was finished by a Lee 15-yard run for a Bulldog touchdown with 1:30 left in the quarter. Blesi ran in the two-point conversion, making it 20-0 by the end of the first. Lee finished with 11 carries for 61 yards.
The Bulldog defense was dominant in the first quarter, only allowing the Rams 12 yards and no first downs, giving the offense plenty of opportunity to run up the score early.
“Defensively we did very very well,” Howe head coach Bill Jehling said. “We had a few problems in the second half, started exposing a few things, but we will keep working to fix those problems.”
The S&S defense slowed the Bulldogs for most of the second quarter, but an errant punt attempt set Howe up nicely on S&S’ seven-yard line.
A short touchdown run by Lee pushed the lead to 27-0 in the middle of the second quarter.
S&S then managed to put together a successful drive — a brilliant shoestring catch by the Blake Smith was good for a 46-yard gain, and then Joey Baggs followed with an 18-yard run to put the Rams on the board.
A flurry of turnovers to end the half only continued at the start of the third quarter when a fumble by the Rams was recovered by Howe. Howe gave the ball right back with a fumble on the very next drive and the constant turnovers prevented either team from scoring in the third quarter.
The Rams scored within the first two minutes of the fourth quarter when Austin Mullennix found the end zone from seven yards out and after a failed conversion made the deficit a 27-12 margin.
The Bulldogs broke answered when Mason Riggs had a 12-yard touchdown run with 6:20 remaining.
S&S responded with two minutes left in the game by producing a drive that ended in Sloan’s 11-yard touchdown run. Sloan finished with 23 carries for 127 yards and also threw for 104 yards.
The Bulldogs sealed the victory with a 48-yard touchdown run by Spencer Akins with 50 seconds left in the ballgame.
“I was proud of our performance tonight,” Jehling said. “We did what we wanted to do. We controlled the ball, controlled the clock, kept the ground and pound that we like to do going… I was very proud of the effort our kids made in the first half… a few mistakes that aren’t uncommon with a team learning a new offense and defense, but like I tell the kids ‘good teams get content, great teams keep striving to get better every week.”