PATTONVILLE — The Tioga Bulldogs put up plenty of points in their bi-district game against the Detroit Eagles but it wasn’t enough to earn their first postseason victory in 11-man football as Detroit won the shootout, 66-42, in a Class 2A Division I Region III match-up at Prairiland.
The Bulldogs (3-7) struggled to stop the big-yardage plays as the Eagles (7-4) had seven plays of 20-or-more yards and 454 total yards to send Detroit into an area-round match-up against defending 2A Division II state champion Mart.
Detroit was led by senior running back Joel Hinson, who carried the ball 33 times for 296 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.
The Bulldogs had 390 yards, led by Reagan Mejia, who was 14-of-21 passing for 244 yards and three touchdowns. Caleb McKinney caught four passes for 88 yards and two touchdowns, Logan Westbrook added three catches for 75 yards and Marshall Lease finished with three catches for 56 yards and a TD and also added a pair of touchdown run. Kaleb Scott was the leading rusher for Tioga with 12 carries for 81 yards while Ryan Montgomery chipped in four rushes for 42 yards and also caught a TD pass.
Hinson got the Eagles on the scoreboard first on the fifth play of the game when he broke loose for a 73-yard touchdown run. The Eagles were successful on the two-point conversion attempt putting them up early with an 8-0 lead.
Tioga answered back on its first offensive possession with a seven-play scoring drive which ended with a two-yard rushing touchdown by Lease. Bulldogs running back Scott then caught a pass from Mejia on the two-point attempt to tie the score at eight.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Eagles escaped what could have been a costly turnover. The ball was fumbled but they managed to recover, and after several laterals Hinson ended up with the ball and made his way deep into Tioga territory before being brought down by the Bulldogs defenders. However, the Eagles didn’t take advantage of the good field position and turned the ball over on downs.
Scott made a big play on Tioga’s next possession with a 60-yard run to the Eagles one-yard line. This set up another rushing touchdown by Lease, who ran the ball in on the next play making the score 15-8 and giving Tioga what turned out to be its only lead of the game.
Detroit then scored three more touchdowns in the first half, two on rushing plays of 13 and 44 yards by Hinson and another on a 20-yard reception by Hunter Crutchfield.
The Bulldogs came up with a big play with 2:09 left in the second quarter when Mejia connected with McKinney, who ran down the left sideline for a 46-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 28-22. McKinney then intercepted a pass from Cloedus Scales with 19 seconds remaining in the half to keep the Bulldogs within six points at half-time.
Detroit didn’t slow down in the second half as Hinson continued with two rushing touchdowns in each of the third and fourth quarters. Hinson’s seven touchdowns, combined with two successful two-point conversions, accounted for 46 of the Eagles 66 points. The Eagles also added a touchdown when Scales scored on a quarterback keeper from seven yards out.
Tioga’s big play of the second half came in the third quarter when Mejia completed a pass to Westbrook, who raced to the five-yard line. That set up a Bulldog touchdown three plays later as McKinney had his second touchdown catch of the game when Scott threw a six-yard touchdown pass on a halfback option with 4:50 left in the third.
In the fourth quarter Mejia threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Montgomery. On the two-point conversion Kyler Patton entered the game after having missed much of the season due to injury and grabbed a pass from Mejia in the back corner of the end zone to bring the score to 50-36 with 9:52 remaining.
Mejia also found Lease for a 25-yard score on the last play of the game.