By JASON EPP
Leader & Times
Too many negative plays derailed the Forgan Bulldogs plans for an upset, losing 22-6 to the Tipton Tigers Friday night in the first round of the Class C playoffs.
"They are really good, and are really quick," said Bulldogs coach Doug Bowles. "They just had a lot more horses in the race than we did."
While Tipton trotted out 31 healthy players, injuries had devastated the Bulldog roster down to just 12 for the game.
Tipton took the early lead after blocking Ryan Radcliff's punt attempt, and taking over at the Forgan 33. It still took eight plays before the Tigers got a 16-yard TD pass to score the games first points. Key to the scoring drive was an offsides penalty against Forgan on fourth and four that gave Tipton a first down. They scored on the following play.
After Forgan went three and out, the Bulldog defense stepped up, and gave the ball back to the offense after thwarting a fake punt near midfield. Forgan faced a third and 12 from the 36, but Dalton Lemieux found Chandler Bryer for a 29-yard gain to give the Bulldogs a first and goal at the seven. Two plays later Lemieux ran it in from there. The two-point conversion failed, and Tipton stayed on top 8-6 with 10:04 left in the first half.
Tipton had an impressive answer to Forgan's score.
After a 76-yard TD pass was called back for a chop block, the Tigers went back to work. Tipton went 77 yards on 19 plays and took over nine minutes off the play clock. They converted a fourth down, and three third downs that included a third and 17, and a diving touchdown catch on third and goal from the five giving them a 14-6 lead at the break.
Tipton was effective on the ground, gaining 270 yards on 50 rushes, but deadly through the air going 5 for 7 for 110 yards and 3 TDs. Tipton's only area of struggle was getting flagged 11 times for 105 yards.
Forgan struggled to move the ball on the ground, managing only 25 yards on 22 carries, and 111 total yards on 36 plays. Lemieux was sacked at least five times.
"They started bringing a lot of people on stunts, and we're just not good enough up front to handle that," said Bowles. "They gave us a lot of problems. Early I thought we were going to score again, but when we didn't it made it tough. We didn't do a good enough job keeping the ball away from them."
Tipton struck quickly to start the second half with a 56-yard pass to make it 22-6.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Forgan's best chance to get back in the game came when Tipton's long-snapper snapped the ball over the punters head giving the ball to the Bulldogs at the Tigers 24-yard line. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs were unable to score, and never threatened again.
Forgan finishes the season 6-5.
"Tanner Jones and Ryan Radcliff have started for four years, and it's hard to put into words what they've meant as far as leadership and keeping things together," said Bowles. "We had a lot of kids that had to play out of position because of injury. They stood up and took on the challenge and fought through. They were unselfish and willing to give up for the team. That will help us in the long run. I couldn't be prouder of them for what they did. I'll always remember these players as guys who faced adversity and stepped up to the challenge."