RIDGELY — The refrain from the announcer Friday night at Bulldogs Stadium, often joined by the hometown faithful, went like this: “That’s another Bulldogs first down!”
There were plenty of first downs for North Caroline High’s football team against Colonel Richardson in the regular-season finale for both schools. And there were plenty of touchdowns for the Bulldogs, including four in the first quarter.
Quarterback Wyatt LaClair connected with J.B. Brown for touchdown receptions on North Caroline’s first two possessions and the Bulldogs ran the ball into the end zone seven times after that for a 63-0 victory, which included nine-straight extra-point kicks by Kyler Boyd.
The Class 2A Bulldogs finished at 9-0, their second-straight unbeaten regular season. North Caroline has lost only two regular-season games in the last five years.
“We put in a lot of hard work and we deserve this,” Bulldogs senior wide receiver and defensive back Michael Stumpf said. “We want to stay as humble as we can, and I think we’re doing really good this season. We put a lot of hard work in, in and out of practice. The weight room is where it all started.”
“I’m really happy for our seniors, they get to join the undefeated-regular-season club,” Bulldogs head coach James McCormick said. “So I’m proud of these guys. They’ve played well all season and finished the regular season on a high note.”
McCormick said the Bulldogs will likely be the third seed in the state and the second seed in the region.
Class 1A Colonel Richardson dropped to 5-4. Both teams await their seeding this morning in their respective East Region playoffs.
North Caroline’s defense recorded its fourth shutout of the season and limited the Colonels to just 47 yards from scrimmage on 30 plays. The Colonels’ only first down that wasn’t the result of a penalty came in their final possession against Bulldog reserves.
“We just have a brotherhood here, we’re a family,” Bulldogs senior linebacker and offensive lineman Jody Ward said. He’s expecting to “just play our hearts out and give it one last ride” in the playoffs.
Dylan Bunce and Alex Walstrum intercepted passes by Colonel Richardson quarterback Jackie Zebron, who didn’t complete a pass in four attempts.
Knowing they would need plenty of points to beat their powerful county rivals, the Colonels chose to go for a first down on a fourth-and-2 at their own 42 during the game’s opening possession. But Zebron was pressured from behind from Rhian Silsley and the ball sailed forward for an incomplete pass. Four plays later the Bulldogs were in the end zone.
Montreyse Deshields gained 15 yards on a run right and Trenton Hillard ran up the middle twice to the Colonels’ 15. LaClair then hit Brown in the left corner of the end zone for a 6-0 lead with 8 minutes, 21 seconds on the clock in the first quarter.
After the Colonels punted, North Caroline used five plays to go 63 yards to make it 13-0. On a third-and-2, Hillard ran 19 yards up the middle to the Colonel 36. Deshields gained 9 yards and then LaClair hit Brown on a short pass and he beat defenders to the left pylon with 4:56 left in the opening quarter.
After the Colonels turned the ball over on downs, the Bulldogs again took five plays to score, this time starting from the Colonel 45. Jalen Carroll gained 18 yards on a sweep right and LaClair hit tight end Dustin Blizzard over the middle with a pass to the 12. Two off-tackle runs by Zamir Dennis made it 20-0 with 1:07 still left in the first quarter.
Bunce picked off Zebron on the Colonels’ next play and Brown scooted up the middle for a 35-yard TD run to complete the Bulldogs’ dominant first quarter.
The Bulldogs punted for their first and only time on their first possession of the second quarter, but followed that with five more touchdowns, including a 15-yard TD run from Xavien Parker, called up from junior varsity this week, that ended the game.
“We did not have a jayvee game this week, so we got to bring up all our sophomores,” said McCormick. “We had our jayvee offense and defense out there in the fourth quarter and they scored a touchdown and did great for us. So we’re real proud of them and real happy that they got a chance to experience some varsity football as sophomores.”
North Caroline led 42-0 at the half, and a running clock moved the game along quickly during the second half. The Bulldogs scored on all three second-half possessions. Mason Lambert gained 4 yards on a second-and-3 for the Colonels’ only non-penalty first down, on their last possession.