It was pretty much business as usual for the Bulldogs on the night, although the Lions put up a heck of a fight in the first half before injuries to the offensive and defensive lines put Blooming Grove in trouble up front. The Lions definitely came out to play as they kept pace with Palmer in the early going, pulling to within one point late in the second quarter. However, the second half belonged entirely to the Bulldogs as they put the game away in the third quarter.
Palmer senior quarterback Adrian Cisneros played three quarters, rushing for 59 yards and a score and throwing for 169 yards and one touchdown. The leading ground gainer for the Bulldogs was senior tailback Dylan Tyree who finished with 102 yards in 11 carries and scored 3 times. Ben Waddle picked up 74 yards rushing and a touchdown and Jacob Berumen finished with 74 yards and 8 carries. The leading receiver was Gabe Bolden with 3 catches for 104 yards.
Lions senior quarterback Carson Rucks completed 17 of 35 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Rucks also threw two interceptions. His leading receiver was Damon Lovett who finished with 6 catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Colton Nicholson had 5 catches for 80 yards, Josh Glasco had 3 for 18, Jalen Coleman had 2 for 2, and Bubba Beacom had a catch for 6 yards. Coleman led the rushing attack with 42 yards in 6 carries and Joe Velasquez ended with 3 carries and 5 yards.
The Lions picked up the first score of the game. The defense forced a fumble and Lovett recovered at the Blooming Grove 41. A nice pass completion of 22 yards from Rucks to Lovett and another pass of 12 from the same two helped the Lions move to the Bulldogs 19 yard line. From there it was the same combination of Rucks to Lovett that covered those 19 yards on a pass into the end zone for the Lions touchdown. Andrew Roberts kicked the extra point and with 6:00 minutes remaining in the first quarter the Lions led 7-0.
Palmer answered that score, however, with one of their own on their ensuing possession. Palmer started at their own 43 and the strong running of Tyree helped move the Bulldogs to the 19 yard line. From there it was Tyree who got the call and the touchdown on a run with 3:07 left in the first quarter. Cisneros carried in for the two and Palmer went up by one, 8-7.
Palmer scored again at the 10:40 mark of the second quarter when Tyree ran in again for the score, this time from 9 yards out. The touchdown run capped a 7 play, 79 yard drive by the Bulldogs. Waddle caught the conversion pass from Cisneros to put Palmer up 16-7.
Blooming Grove then answered that score with one of their own. The Lions started at their own 25 yard line and a nice run of 18 yards by Coleman moved the ball to the 43. A 24 yard pass to Nicholson from Rucks and another pass, this one of 9, to Nicholson from Rucks helped move the ball to the 18 yard line. From there it was a pass from Rucks to Lovett that covered the remaining 18 yards and resulted in a touchdown with 7:48 left in the second. A pass from Rucks to Nicholson picked up the conversion points and the score became 16-15, Palmer.
The Bulldogs went on another long drive after the Blooming Grove score. This one covered 65 yards and 10 plays and ended with Waddle catching a touchdown pass from Cisneros that went for 7 yards. Tyree caught the conversion pass and the score became 24-15 with 2:10 remaining in the half.
A costly fumble by the Lions on their next possession proved to be costly as the Bulldogs recovered the football at the 41 yard line of the Lions. It only took two plays from there for Palmer to find paydirt. The first play was a 36 yard pass from Cisneros to Bolden that went to the five and the second was a five yard run into the end zone by Cisneros for the score. Alan Mata kicked the extra point and the score became 31-15 at the half.
Palmer put the game away in the third quarter as they came out on fire both on offense and defense. Their first possession of the third quarter started at their own 27 yard line. A 24 yard run by Tyree was followed with a 29 yard pass completion from Cisneros to Bolden that had Palmer at the Lions 11, thanks to a penalty against Blooming Grove that aided the drive. Tyree ran for 9 to the two and then finished it off with a run of two yards into the end zone for the touchdown. Mata kicked the extra point and the lead increased to 38-15 with 10:25 left in the third.
A successful onside kick followed the Palmer score and they were once again in business, this time at the Lions 45. It only took one play as Waddle covered those 45 yards on a run with 10:10 showing on the clock. Mata’s kick made it 45-15.
That would also prove to be the final tally as both teams traded possessions the rest of the way. The Lions did have a nice defensive stand late in the game as the Bulldogs threatened to score from two. However, a Roberts hit on the Bulldog running back forced a fumble and ended the threat.
“We came out strong and ready to play. We executed well on offense early on and stayed right with them. But, we had some injuries to our line and that hurt us the rest of the game. We played hard and never quit but Palmer came out in the second half and definitely played better than us,” summed up Lion head coach Ervin Chandler.