Hurricanes win battle of undefeated teams
Perhaps the most anticipated match-up of the season took place Sunday as the last two undefeated division A teams, the Bulldogs and Hurricanes, hooked up for a classic encounter.
After an offensive explosion in the first half, coaches and players adjusted and put on a defensive showcase. The Hurricanes were able to get just enough offense and forced a crucial turnover to hang on for the win, defeating the Bulldogs 14-12 on Sunday at Youth Sports Inc.
After scoring an early 14 points, the Canes were able to hold the Bulldogs scoreless in the second half to ensure the win.
“Our defense bent early on, but they didn’t break,” Hurricane head coach Bret Toelkes said.
Both teams touted powerful running games and an overwhelming defense, and both did not disappoint.
Led by Asher Hannon, the Bulldog offense struck first. On a controversial call, the Bulldogs connected on a 46-yard touchdown reception. Bulldog wide receiver William Simmons wrestled the ball away from his own teammate and slashed his way down the field for the first points of the game. However, Hurricane coaches were irate, claiming Simmons’ teammate had possession of the ball and was down on the ground. After a couple of minutes of discussion, the touchdown stood and the Bulldogs grabbed the early momentum.
The Hurricane offense was undaunted, answering with their three-headed monster backfield of Caleb Bowen, Jason Tetuan and Jermel Fleming. The three chewed up yardage, picking up 5 yards each carry with ease, and exhausted the Bulldog defensive line. Fleming eventually finished the drive, dancing around in the backfield and blasting up the field for a 10-yard touchdown run.
Similar to before, the Hurricane running game ripped off large runs, setting up for a 7-yard bruising touchdown run by Tetuan that put the Canes up 14-6.
Hoping to close the gap, the Bulldogs tried to put some points on the board before the half. Unexpectedly, lightning struck with a second left on the clock before the half. With the Canes in a prevent defense, the Bulldogs called a halfback pass. Garrett Cleavinger took the handoff and threw a desperation pass to Simmons, who used his height to outjump the Cane secondary and dash into the end zone for an unexpected 55-yard touchdown reception.
Looking to jump-start the defense, both coaches made minor adjustments to their game plans at half.
“The Bulldogs were doing a nice job of passing, so we moved into a cover two to try and cover their receivers,” Toelkes said.
The Bulldogs were looking for the go-ahead touchdown, but the Cane defense dug in and forced a turnover on downs on their own 15-yard line. The Canes defense yet again stood strong, forcing a momentum-swinging turnover on downs.
The Bulldogs were given one last chance after taking a punt on their own 40-yard line with 2:03 left in the game. Looking to make something happen, Hannon looked to his security blanket, Simmons. However a leaping Bowen used his sticky hands to pick off the pass and secure the win for the Canes.
“We kept asking Bowen to make a play, make a play and he eventually did,” Toelkes said.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, the Bulldogs realized they were a couple of plays from winning the game. The Hurricanes can expect to see the Bulldogs later this season – possibly in a championship meeting – but this time the Dogs will be looking for redemption.
The Hurricanes now hold sole first place of the A Division, but the Bulldogs hold a close second.