Bulldogs defeat Alto to move on to next round of playoffs
The Thorndale Bulldogs football team defeated the Alto Yellow jackets 28-21 in the bi-district round of the playoffs on Nov. 12.
Thorndale received the ball to start the game but couldn’t move the ball and was forced to punt. The Bulldog defense started slow as the Yellow Jackets offense moved the ball on a 27 yard pass, then a 3 yard touchdown run for a 6-0 lead after a missed extra point. The Bulldog offense marched down the field and put themselves in a good position to score. The first quarter ended with Alto leading 6-0.
Thorndale got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter with a 6-yard touchdown run by Stryker Leschber (28) putting them in the lead 7-6. The offense would come back on the field after an interception by Leschber that he caught after tipping the pass. They rewarded the defense with a 35-yard catch by Clason Beasley (2) and an 18-yard run by Leschber. Thorndale extended the lead on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Coy Stutts (4) to extend their lead 14-6. The defense continued suffocating the Yellow Jacket offense as they would get another interception by Branson McCoy (88). Thorndale did not convert the turnover into points as they would go three and out. The halftime score remained 14-6.
Alto started the second half strong and would tie the game at 14 on a 35-yard touchdown run and a successful two point conversion. The Bulldogs responded with a 34-yard touchdown pass from Stutts to Beasley for a 20-14 lead after the extra point attempt was blocked. Thorndale started to bend on defense as they allowed a 19-yard run, then a 24-yard run. However, they refused to break as they forced a fourth and 8 on the Yellow Jackets. Alto attempted a fourth down conversion but Thorndale would stop them and took the ball over on downs. The third quarter ended with Thorndale leading 20-14.
Early in the fourth quarter failed to move the ball and had to punt. The Bulldog defense allowed a fourth and 9 and later gave up a 4-yard touchdown run for a 21-20 deficit. The offense responded with a 63-yard touchdown catch by McCoy on a laser pass from Stutts for a 28-21 lead after a successful two point conversion on a catch by Beasley.
“They do such a good job and their so athletic, and the box is completely full,” Coach John Kovar said. “We’d seen something with a little one safety high deal and we had a little special play for that, and it’s been in the back pocket for a long time and it came through. It’s hard to put it into ink but it couldn’t have been a more perfect throw and a more perfect run and catch in that situation.”
The Yellow Jackets tried to pull off a comeback in the last two minutes but fell short thanks to a clutch sack by Brenton Wilhite (53) on a fourth and 10 to seal the win 28-21.
“Coach made a great call with the little stunt,” Kovar said. “Our outside linebacker, Brenton, he’s tough to block on that stuff. Great call by him and a good stop by our kids. Our kids just played so hard, there was chances for them to kind of go ‘god we didn’t get a break here, we didn’t get a break there’, but they just kept grinding.”
Coy Stutts played well, throwing for 163 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for 57 yards and a touchdown. Stryker Leschber rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown, and also contributed on defense with an interception. Clason Beasley was outstanding as he had 77 receiving yards and a touchdown. Branson Mccoy had a great game with 63 receiving yards and a touchdown and also had an interception. The defense played great as they held Alto to 91 passing yards, forced 3 fumbles and caught two interceptions.
“Alto doesn’t want to pass it, so our guys did a good job of stopping the run and making them pass it,” Kovar said. “I was kind of surprised they actually got a few completions, but at the end when they’re down and after that play big we had at the end and they had to throw it, that’s not really their offense. They try to stay on top and just grind it out, so we were able to stop them at the end. The kids made some great plays and coach had a great call on the little stunt at the end and Wilhite came free.”
Up next for the Thorndale Bulldogs will be the Timpson Bears in the area round of the playoffs. The game will be played at Fairfield High School on Friday, Nov. 19, and kickoff is set for 7 p.m.