Step one is in the books. The Lovell Bulldogs’ hoped-for three-step process to a state championship got off to a strong start Friday night as the Bulldogs dominated the Burns Broncs 43-6 at Robertson Stadium.
Now Newcastle will try to derail the Bulldog Express when the Dogies come to down for a 6 p.m. kickoff Friday at Robertson Stadium.
The Burns game was all Bulldogs. Although Burns came into the game on a roll, the Bulldogs put a quick halt to any momentum the Broncs had built in recent weeks, stuffing the Burns running attack with a hard-hitting defense, then thwarting the Bronc aerial attack.
In fact, if not for an inadvertent whistle on Burns’ only scoring drive of the game that gave the ball back to the Broncs after they fumbled deep in their own territory, the final score might have been something like 50-0.
“Defensively, we would have liked a shutout. We still have some things to work on,” coach Doug Hazen said. “Even after the (inadvertent) whistle we still let them go 75 yards for a touchdown.
“Obviously, we stuffed their run, and that turned them into a one-dimensional team. Our line did a good job with penetration up front, and our linebackers filled well. Dillon Pickett had a good game again.”
Hazen also noted that the bulldog defensive backs stayed behind the Burns receivers, then made good plays on the football, intercepting four passes, three by McKayan May.
Offensively, the Lovell power game ate up the Burns defense as the Bulldogs rushed for 308 yards on 42 carries, a 7.3-yard average. Dino Collins led the way with 128 yards rushing on 18 carries, and Dimas Patina added 93 yards on 10 attempts.
“Dimas has done a great job coming in and being a spark plug and continuing our success with the running game,” Hazen said. “We ran hard, and our line was moving people out of the way. It was one of our better performances in a while.”
Fullback Nathan Grant also had a strong game with 76 yards on seven carries.
“Nathan has done an exceptional job,” Hazen said, adding that Grant’s blocking is superb, as well.
Dylan Hultgren completed seven of 12 passes for 89 yards: three to Cody Savage for 35 yards, one to Collin McArthur for 28 yards, one to Grant for 14, one to Hunter Hinckley for eight and one to May for four.
“Dylan is efficient,” Hazen said. “He doesn’t have gaudy numbers, but he moves the offense and he makes good decisions. He’s pretty good at spreading the ball around. We have the skilled people so if they stop one guy, we’ll throw it to the other guy or hand it to another guy.”
Defensively, the Bulldogs held Burns to 98 yards rushing on 34 carries, a 2.9-yard average, and 87 yards passing, with four interceptions.
May led the Bulldogs with 20 defensive points on three assisted tackles, one solo tackle and three interceptions. AJ Montanez added 17 points on nine assisted tackles, one solo stop and two tackles for a loss. Pickett had 14 points, Savage 13, McArthur, Collins and Hinckley 9 each.
The outcome was really never in doubt Friday. Lovell took the opening kickoff and drove 58 yards. A field goal was blocked, but the ball ended up at the Burns one-yard line. One play later the Broncs snapped the ball through the end zone for a safety. Lovell led 2-0.
Getting the ball in great field position following the kickoff, the Bulldogs drove 41 yards in five plays. A 25-yard run by Grant set up an eight-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Hinckley, who leapt high in the end zone to snare the Hultgren throw. Cody Savage’s PAT put Lovell up 9-0.
Lovell drove 80 yards early in the second quarter to score again as Grant and Collins ran hard and Hultgren found Savage for 15 yards, Grant for 14 and Collins McArthur for 28. Hulgren’s quarterback sneak and the ensuing PAT put Lovell up 16-0.
Two odd calls by the referees helped the Broncs score their only touchdown of the night on the next series. Facing third and eight at the Burns 35, quarterback Chad Lemaster rolled out and was blasted by a Lovell defender, fumbling the ball. Ryan Clark grabbed the pigskin and returned it to the 15, but referees ruled that an inadvertent whistle had blown, allowing the Broncs to replay the down.
Lovell seemed to have stopped the drive again a few plays later, but the Broncs ran a fake punt, and senior Dalton Petsch successfully converted. Burns drove to the Lovell 20 and fumbled again, but the referees ruled an incomplete pass and Lemaster hit Petsch for 17 yards and, following a loss, hit Brodie Eklund in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. A two-point pass failed, but Burns was in the game trailing 16-6 with just 30 seconds left in the first half.
The second half was all Lovell. The Bulldogs scored three touchdowns in the third quarter on drives of 60, four and 52 yards. Collins broke free for a 31-yard gain to set up a 20-yard run up the middle by Grant, who dove to the end zone.
After an interception by Hinckley on a deep throw, the Bulldogs had to punt, but Savage drove the Broncs deep with a great boot. After a motion penalty set them back to the four, the Broncs went to the air again and May snared his second interception of the game, returning the pick to the nine. A late-hit penalty moved the ball to the four, and Hultgren fired the ball low in the front right corner of the end zone to May for a touchdown. Lovell led 30-6.
Lovell drove 52 yards in two plays to score again late in the third. Collins was hit for no gain, but the Bulldogs picked up 15 yards on an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and on the next play, Collins swept around right end, followed some good blocking and raced 37 yards for a touchdown. The PAT was wide, but Lovell led 36-6 after three.
With plenty of substitutes in the game the Bulldogs scored one more time in the fourth quarter as backup halfback Patina got loose for 45 yards, then scored on a five-yard run. Lovell led 43-6 early in the fourth, then played a number of subs the rest of the way.
Dogies to town
Now 9-0, the Bulldogs will host a strong Newcastle squad in the second round of the playoffs Friday at 6 p.m. Newcastle is 7-2 overall and is coming off a 28-0 home win over the Thermopolis Bobcats in a Saturday afternoon playoff game.
After losing their first game of the season to Southeast, 13-0, the Dogies won six of the next seven 2A East Conference games, falling only to Glenrock 33-14.
“They’re big and physical, and they really came after Thermop,” Hazen said. “They put a lot of pressure on the quarterback.
“Offensively, they’re kind of similar to us and Burns with more of a traditional offensive game. They run the ball more than they throw it, but they can definitely throw the ball. They rotate two quarterbacks, each with a unique skill set. They also have a large fullback.
“They spread it around and have no glaring tendencies. They’re a very solid team. Defensively, they’re solid, and offensively, they’re solid. They will make us work for it.”
Hazen said the Dogies run a 4-4 defense and a lot of man-to-man coverage in the secondary, much like Burns.
Hazen said the Bulldogs will have their work cut out for them, but he believes his team is up to the challenge.
“We have good leaders, and we have more team camaraderie than we’ve had in the past,” he said. “There is going to come a point when we’ll see what we’re really made of. We’re not going to walk to a state championship without any adversity. We will have to prepare ourselves this week.”
2011 Newcastle results
Southeast 13, Newcastle 0
Newcastle 28, Moorcroft 6
Newcastle 31, Burns 6
Newcastle 20, Wright 0
Glenrock 33, Newcastle 14
Newcastle forfeit over TR
Newcastle 33, Wheatland 0
Newcastle 35, Big Horn 21
Newcastle 28, Thermop 0
Friday, Oct. 28
Lyman 54, Big Horn 0
Lovell 43, Burns 6
Saturday, Oct. 29
Glenrock 22, Kemmerer 11
Newcastle 28, Thermop 0
Friday, Nov. 4
Newcastle at Lovell, 6 p.m.
Lyman at Glenrock, 7 p.m.
War Memorial Stadium
Friday, Nov. 11
2A game at noon
By David Peck