By Travis Smola
The scoreboard made things look a lot closer than they actually were as the Vicksburg Bulldog football team downed the South Haven Rams 50-26.
The Bulldogs played their cleanest game of the season as multiple Vicksburg players found different ways to get into the end zone. Head coach Tom Marchese praised the offensive line, which helped senior quarterback Brenden Lovell in what was probably his best performance of the season.
“They gave him a lot of time to throw the ball,” Marchese said.
And Lovell capitalized on that time, throwing touchdowns of 31 yards to junior receiver Ryan Morgan, and 24 yards to senior receiver Drew Hamilton. Marchese noted both receivers stepped up their game. “They made their opportunities tonight,” he said.
The most spectacular touchdown of Lovell’s evening of the night came on a first and 10 from the South Haven 39.
Lovell was absolutely levelled by a Rams defender on the play, but not before delivering a precision strike over the heads of two defenders into senior receiver Deondre Lovell’s hands. Brenden also had a one-yard touchdown on the ground.
Senior receiver Blake Rankin was kept off the scoreboard through the air, but he found the end zone on a 24-yard scamper from the backfield in the second quarter.
But the oddest score of the night was the Bulldog’s final touchdown. Junior running back Tyler Johnson took an early fourth quarter handoff on a long run down near the goal line when he was stripped of the ball as he was pushed out of bounds.
Somehow, the ball bounced its way into the end zone where senior Noah Burton was able to recover it for the score.
While the Rams were able to rack up a couple touchdowns near the end of the game, Marchese was also particularly happy about another aspect of the night’s game. “We played for the most part, mistake-free,” Marchese said.
Penalties have been something the Bulldogs have struggled with.
On the defensive side of the ball, it was junior linebacker Cole Mallery who made one of the biggest plays of the night. On a first and 15 from their own 23 yard line, Mallery stole the ball right out of a South Haven player’s hands and returned it untouched into the end zone for a touchdown.
The team faces the Three Rivers wildcats in their regular-season finale on the road next week.
The team would like to extend their record to 8-1. Achieving this doesn’t guarantee a home playoff game, but it makes for better odds of one.
Historically Three Rivers has mostly held the advantage against the Bulldogs, but the momentum has shifted back towards Vicksburg in recent years. The Wildcats have a 6-2 record this year and won’t be an easy opponent. But the team wouldn’t have it any other way.
“That’s our rivalry,” Marchese said. “Our kids look forward to that at the beginning of the season no matter what our record is.”