The Stone Bridge Bulldogs entered their season-opening game against Robinson Aug. 24 with a sour taste in their mouth. After failing to reach the Northern Region championship game last season, something they have become accustomed to; the Bulldogs were chomping at the bit to get back on the field.
A defensive struggle ensued with the Stone Bridge offense not scoring a touchdown until the fourth quarter. After three tough quarters, the Bulldogs (1-0) were able distance themselves from the Rams to start their 2012 campaign with a 31-14 home victory.
“It’s getting better, were making progress, but its slow progress,” Bulldogs Coach Mickey Thompson said, “We struggled a little, especially on offense, but we have to get better on both sides of the ball.”
The first six drives yielded 17 points for Stone Bridge, two blocked punts by the defense led to the Bulldogs’ first two scores. After Luke Fitzgerald and Jon Allen blocked Robinson’s punt, Gunnar Blackshaw returned the loose ball for a 33-yard score with 9:53 remaining in the first quarter.
Allen, committed to the University of Alabama, went air born to block his second punt that was returned by Zack Wilson 16 yards to the house.
“I felt my performance during the game was slacking.” Allen said, “I was talking to myself and I knew I just had to do something to make a play to get our team going. Whether it was a blocked punt or something else, I knew I was going to make a play.”
After holding Robinson to three and out, the Bulldogs were able to move the ball and use clock management to get off a 32-yard field goal attempt. Brendan Smedley’s kick split the uprights as the clock expired, giving the Bulldogs a 17-0 halftime lead.
“It took us a while to get on the field with the punt blocks and touchdowns.” Bulldog quarterback Ryan Burns said of the offense. “I think we started off pretty well, but made a couple of mistakes. This is a pretty good team this year and we just have to fix a few things.”
The defensive struggle continued into the second half with Robinson’s Joe Wilson breaking free for a 45-yard scamper with just more a minute to go in the third quarter. Wilson led all rushers with 133 yards on 29 carries.
The Bulldogs were quick to answer and finally got their offense rolling with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Cameron Reynolds plunged in from 1-yard out and Ryan Burns went in from 8-yards out on a broken play scramble.
“It was supposed to be a pass in the corner of the end zone, and the pocket collapsed so I decided to tuck and run,” Burns said.
Burns, who will play for Stanford next fall, played solid completing 13 of 22 passes for 168 yards with no interceptions. Burns was also the leading Bulldog rusher with 35 yards on four carries.
“I thought he [Burns] had a really good day,” Thompson said, “We had some problems on routes and a few dropped balls. His play I thought was about as good as it gets, we just have to play better around him.”
D’Ante Yarborough led all receivers with six receptions for 119 yards, while Rassaun Goldring hauled in five receptions for 47 yards. Freshman quarterback Joe Thompson, the son of coach Mickey Thompson, completed 3 of 5 passes for 22 yards in reserve action.
The Bulldogs don’t have long to celebrate as they face one of the top teams in the state Sept. 7 with Chantilly traveling to the Dog Pound.
“I think this will be a good challenge for us, before we start district play,” Allen said, “I am excited about the game and looking forward to the challenge.”
Stone Bridge 31, Robinson Secondary 14
SB Blackshaw 33 punt return (Smedley kick), 9:55
SB Wilson 16 punt return (Smedley kick), 2:24
SB Smedley 32 field goal 0:02
RS Wilson 45 run (Rockwood kick), 1:14
SB Reynolds 1 run (Smedley kick), 11:54
SB Burns 8 run (Smedley kick), 8:43
RS Wilson 5 run (Rockwood kick), 0:13
SBHS stat leaders
-Rushing: Burns (4 for 35 yards, TD); Dailey (9 for 29 yards); Reynolds (4 for 25 yards, TD)
-Passing: Burns (13 of 22 for 168 yards); Thompson (3 of 5 22 yards)
-Receiving: Yarborough ( 6 for 119 yards); Goldring 5 for 47); Kuzbel (3 for 18 yards)
RSS stat leaders
-Rushing: Wilson (29 for 133 yards, 2 TD); Bowen (2 for 47 yards); Peterson (2 for 47 yards)
-Passing Hughney (7 for 18 for 86 yards, 1 INT)
-Receiving Grant (3 for 56 yards); Peterson (3 for 30 yards)
Video: Michael “Moe” Murphy interviews Stone Bridge senior DE Jonathan Allen following the Bulldogs’ season-opening win Aug. 31.
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