By Jeff Anderson
SUGAR HILL, Ga. —The Dutchtown Bulldogs began their 2020 football season on the road as they traveled to Sugar Hill, Georgia for matchup with the Lanier Longhorns.
Last season both teams were playoff contenders. The Bulldogs made a deep playoff run in the state’s 5A classification, going 11-2 before losing to Starr’s Mill. Lanier also made a postseason run in Class 6A before failing to Richmond Hill.
Despite last year’s success, both teams featured many new faces, and as Dutchtown defensive coordinator William Rogers said before the game, “We gotta teach the young guys how to hunt.”
After almost four quarters of scoreless football, a critical play came with 5:44 left in the game. Lanier had driven to the Bulldog 25 and faced a critical 4th and 4. That’s when Longhorns senior quarterback, Andrew Blackford hit senior wideout Tyler Washington in stride to convert the critical fourth down play.
Lanier drove to the Bulldog 13. On third down Blackford tried the Bulldog defense with a pass into the end zone. A Dutchtown defensive back nearly made a diving interception to snuff the drive. Instead, Lanier placekicker, Mason Mancilla came on to split the uprights on a 30-yard field goal that was the game’s first and only offensive score.
With 2:58 remaining in regulation, the Dawgs were backed up to their own 5-yard line. The center snap back to Fedd was botched. All Fedd could do was fall on the ball for a Safety.
Lanier was able to run out the clock for the 5-0 victory.
The game was a true defensive struggle in every sense.
In the first half, neither offense could move the ball against either squad’s stout defense. That, along with numerous penalties by both offenses, resulted in a scoreless tie at halftime. The second half started with the same formula as the first. Tough defense and not much offense from either team.
Then with 4:07 left in the third quarter Lanier drove to its 47-yard line before its drive stalled. They lined up in punt formation and then shifted and had a full back come up to take a direct snap. The Bulldog defense sniffed it out and were able to stop the Longhorn’s 4th down conversion attempt.
Dutchtown took over at the Longhorn 47, which marked the first time Dutchtown had been across midfield all game.
Dutchtown running back Jamal Bing took a handoff from senior QB Arendez Fedd which resulted in a ten yard run for a first down. That was followed by another run which set up a Bing run for another Bulldog first down, and the Dawgs were threatening with a fresh set of downs at the Lanier 24-yard line.
A pass interference penalty moved the ball down to the 12, but a penalty against the Bulldogs pushed them back to the 26.
Tempers flared on the next play after a tough run by Bing. There was a penalty against the Longhorns that moved the ball down closer to the 10-yard line. But on the next play, a bad snap resulted in a loss of eight yards as the third quarter ended.
The first play from scrimmage in the fourth quarter was a third down pass play that was incomplete from Fedd to senior wideout Shemar Nelson, bringing up a crucial fourth down for the Bulldogs.
Rather than attempting a 38-yard field goal, Dutchtown decided to go for it. But before it could get the snap off, a delay of game penalty was called. That pushed the ball back to the 26-yard line where Dutchtown tried a pass to the end zone, but it was incomplete, and Lanier took over on downs from there.
Lanier failed to move the ball on its next possession and was forced to punt. The Dawgs got the ball back and started their possession in their own territory at the 40-yard line, but could not move the ball. They were forced to punt. Fedd’s punt was his worst of the night and gave Lanier good field position in Bulldog territory.
After the game Dutchtown head coach Clifford Fedd acknowledged both his team’s hearty effort and the need to improve, particularly offensively.
“We’re working hard,” Fedd said. “We’ll continue to work hard and we’ll get better.”
Dutchtown (0-1) returns to play Friday night when they travel to Wheeler (0-1) for a 7 p.m. kickoff. Wheeler fell 35-14 to Marietta in its season opener Friday night.