By Travis Smola
The Bulldogs have some issues to work through after the varsity football team dropped their first game of the season 54-14 on the road against Dowagiac.
“We haven’t faced this adversity in a couple years, we’ve gotten them the first game,” Head Coach Tom Marchese said. “So we’ll see what we’re made of right from the beginning.”
The Bulldogs fumbled the ball away on their second drive of the game. This led to a Chieftain touchdown. Their next drive had a similar result with a strip sack of sophomore quarterback Jacob Conklin. Dowagiac also converted that into a touchdown but the extra point was no good putting the Chieftains up 13-0.
Conklin made up for it on the next drive. Facing a 3rd and 13 from Vicksburg’s own 35, he managed to find some space to hit junior receiver Chase Myers in stride. Myer broke one tackle and then scampered his way to the end zone for a huge 65 yard touchdown.
It seems Conklin has some chemistry with Myers as the duo connected four times for totaling 90 yards and the score. Conklin finished the night 9 of 16 for 146 yards, a TD and an INT.
“For a first game for a sophomore quarterback I thought he played well, he played with poise,” Marchese said. “He’ll grow. As an offense we’ll probably grow as he grows.”
Dowagiac made things 27-7 with approximately five minutes left in the half. The Bulldogs put together a nice drive on their next possession on the hard running of Caleb Welch. The senior racked up 80 yards on 13 attempts. But the Bulldogs drive stalled out at the Chieftain 30 yard line and they turned the ball over on downs.
“We had a lot of mental lapses today, they kind of got us on both sides of the line of scrimmage,” Marchese said. “We’ve got to tighten up some stuff. The only way I know how to do it is to go to hard work. Practice hard and I know we’ll get better.”
The Bulldogs went for a surprise onside kick to open the second half, but the Chieftains recovered and marched downfield to make things 34-7.
Vicksburg showed signs of life on their next drive on an eight-play drive that was capped off by an eight yard touchdown scramble by Conklin. But it ended up being their last score of the night as Dowagiac’s shifty offense continued to score again and again.
“We knew the quarterback could get out of the pocket and we were worried about that,” Marchese said. “He got out a couple times on us tonight.”
Marchese credited Dowagiac with being a very physical and talented team. But he also believes they can bounce back from this early season loss.
“I know we’ll be better,” Marchese said. “I know we’re not as bad as this score is.”