BG Erivn Chandler

Daily Sun File photo/Ron Farmer

New Blooming Grove coach Ervin Chandler, seen here talking to his players during summer drills, says they are starting to believe at Blooming Grove, and that he believes in his kids, who have made a big improvement since last year.

The Lions, Rice Bulldogs and Mildred Eagles could have an incredible race in District 7-3A DII.

   EDGEWOOD -- The Blooming Grove Lions made the long road trip to Edgewood Friday night and came up on the short end of a 55-24 score in the district opener for both squads.

It was too much of Bulldog senior running back Kyle Keltner that proved to be the undoing for the Lions. Keltner followed the blocking of his huge offensive linemen to the tune of 249 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.

Bulldog quarterback Trey McPherson chipped in 48 rushing yards and 95 passing yards in the victory. He also threw for two touchdowns.

   While the Bulldog offense proved to be too much for Lions defense, it was also the Lion offense that found the going tough against Edgewood’s defense.

     Missing starting quarterback Carson Rucks, who was out with strep throat, Lions head coach Ervin Chandler turned to junior quarterback Matthew Beacom. Beacom completed 6 of 10 passes for 79 yards and had two scoring tosses, one to Colton Nicholson and one to Michael Adkins.

Jalen Coleman led the rushing attack with 66 yards in 18 carries. Running back Joe Velasquez added 41 yards in 8 tries.

   Edgewood started the scoring early, going 63 yards in nine plays to open the game with the ninth play being a 1-yard run by McPherson for the touchdown. Keltner added two more points on the conversion run to put the Bulldogs up 8-0 with 9:25 remaining in the quarter.

   After a three-and-out series by the Lions, the Bulldogs started their next possession at the Lions' 48. It took one play from there as McPherson hooked up with Jacob Perez on a pass play for the score. The conversion run failed but the lead had increased to 14-0 at the 6:48 mark of quarter number one.

   The next score of the game came on the first play of the second quarter. The Bulldogs had an impressive 80 yard drive that ended with Keltner scoring on a 4 yard run. The conversion run failed, leaving the score at 20-0.

   When all looked lost for the Lions, lightening struck for the visitors. That lightening came in the form of Damon Lovett as he returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for the Lions first score of the contest. Beacom hooked up with Josh Glasco on a pass for the conversion and the Lions had cut the lead to 12 points at 20-8.

   It was Glasco who set up the next score for Blooming Grove. On the ensuing kickoff after e Lions' score, Glasco nailed the Bulldog return man, causing a fumble that was recovered by Adkins at the Bulldogs 23-yard line. It took only one play as Beacom hooked up with Nicholson on a pass play that covered those 23 yards. Beacom ran in the two-point conversion to make it a 20-16 ballgame with 10:56 remaining in quarter number two.

   Edgewood answered that score, however, with one of their own as they drove 59 yards in nine plays following the Lion score. It was receiver Clayton Coble who was on the receiving end of a 19-yard pass from McPherson that produced the next points in the game. A conversion pass attempt failed, but Edgewood had increased their lead to 26-16.

   The Bulldogs scored again with 3:15 left in the quarter when McPherson scored on a 4-yard run. His score was set up on a 21-yard dash by Keltner. An incomplete conversion pass left the score at 32-16.

   Following a failed onside kick attempt by Edgewood, the Lions started their next possession at their own 49-yard line. The running of Beacom and Coleman moved the ball to the 14-yard line. On second down from there Beacom found Adkins on a short pass in the flat and Adkins did the rest to cover the 14 remaining yards for the touchdown. Glasco caught the conversion pass from Beacom and the score became 32-24 at the half.

   The second half, though, belonged to Edgewood as the Bulldogs' big offensive and defensive linemen proved to be too much for the Lions to overcome. Keltner scored on a 4-yard run with 3:34 left in the third and also added the additional two points on a run to increase the Bulldogs lead to 40-24.

   The Bulldogs were set up with great field position as the fourth quarter started when Lovett was stopped short on a fourth down run to give the home team field position at the Lions 15. Keltner had no trouble covering those 15 yards for a touchdown with 7:07 remaining in the game. McPherson scored the two extra points on a run to make the score 48-24.

   The last score of the game came with 2:34 remaining when Jonathan Bennett scored on a one yard run. Bennett kicked the extra point to produce the final of 55-24.

   “We put ourselves in a hole early, getting behind like we did. We made a strong run in the second quarter to make it a game, but their size on the offensive and defensive lines eventually just wore us out. It really took its toll on us in the second half,” summed up Chandler in a post-game interview.

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