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Dogs turns it around after slow start

Alhambra junior tight end Zach Schuler makes a one-handed catch in the Bulldogs’ 48-13 win over the Ygnacio Valley Warriors in the DAL league opener on Oct. 7, 2016. (MARK FIERNER / Martinez Tribune)
Alhambra junior tight end Zach Schuler makes a one-handed catch in the Bulldogs’ 48-13 win over the Ygnacio Valley Warriors in the DAL league opener on Oct. 7, 2016. (MARK FIERNER / Martinez Tribune)

By GERARDO RECINOS
Martinez Tribune

In a heavyweight fight sometimes a scrappy underdog can land an early knockdown. It takes a lot to get up, but when you do the huge momentum swing can be the spark.

And it was the spark for the Bulldog football team.

They got punched in the mouth by the Ygnacio Valley Warriors on Friday night. But they rebounded and won 48-13.

The Oct. 7 road win over the Warriors started off in the worst way possible. But Coach Alan Hern was impressed with his team’s ability to shut down the Warriors.

“Any type of offense that’s different like this [Ygnacio Valley’s] is really hard to simulate,” Hern said of the run-heavy attack. “We don’t do anything similar to this, and you try and practice it the best you can, but you cant run it at the speed and precision that they do.”

Ygnacio Valley has been known for it’s running game in the past, but no one could have been prepared for the start the Warriors got off to. After recovering a shock onside kick to open the game, the gutsy Warriors went deep on their first play from scrimmage.

Senior quarterback Kionte Zerai hit senior Antonio Rodriguez for a 32-yard touchdown pass, stunning the entire Bulldog sideline.

Not long after things seemed to come back down to earth. Daymyn Blalock marched the team down the field with big pass plays off 22, and 17 yards to Jackson Norried and Trent Greene respectively to set up the Bulldogs inside the Ygnacio 10-yard line.

Daniel Boyd would punch the ball in from one yard out.

That all seemed normal and expected from a Ygnacio defense that had allowed more than 30 points in three of their five games this season.

What wasn’t expected was the methodical drive the Warriors went on straight after that ended in a 55-yard touchdown from shifty senior running back Darius McVay.

The defense seemed stunned. Alhambra was surely the better team, and here they were looking like they might have to engage in a dog fight.

But then things settled down. The running game looked more lethal.

Boyd rumbled to a 21-yard gain that led to a 16-yard touchdown by Thomas McDonald that ended with the senior from Texas putting an okie-doke move on a defensive back and leaving him in the dust.

“If we can establish the sweep action, there are a lot of things that come off of that,” Hern said of the emergence of the running game that set up the score. “If we start to see over play there are things we can do to make sure he [Boyd] gets the football.”

They got Boyd the ball on the ground, he had two running touchdowns. They got him the ball through the air, hauling down a pass on a well run wheel route from the backfield to score. Blalock was able to spread the ball around not just to Boyd and the aforementioned McDonald. He hit his favorite target of the preseason Greene for a four-yard touchdown, and also found Zach Schuler in the seam for a 33-yard score.

Takeaways from the defense thanks to the likes of Eddie Taylor set up a short field and allowed Boyd to punch it in once more from close distance when the result of the game had long since been decided.

They even got a chance to turn on the style points, with a 98-yard interception return for a touchdown capping off the dominating performance, and earning them their first Diablo Athletic League win, leaving them at 3-3 with everything to play for in the final four.

“We didn’t do poorly in the first half, but it was a good chance to see, ‘this is where we’re at, this is where we want to go,’” Hern said.

“Obviously the league championship is our goal,” he said.

About Gerardo Recinos

Gerardo Recinos is a journalist currently living in Concord, Calif. He is a recent graduate of San Francisco State University, with a degree in Journalism (History minor). Gerardo covers sports throughout Martinez and Pleasant Hill. It's his lifelong mission to get people in the U.S. to stop calling football "soccer," and to call American football "handegg."

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