Linden’s first points came on their first possession about midway through the first. Fullback Bailey Wright took the handoff behind right guard and ran 46 yards for the touchdown.
The Lions’ second touchdown also came from the feet of Wright, when he took it in from 26 yards with 1:33 remaining the quarter.
The Bullfrogs had enough and it showed. After giving 141 yards through the first quarter, Bret Harte buckled down in the remaining three and only allowed 145 yards through the rest of the game.
Near the end of the first half, the Bullfrogs found themselves in prime scoring position after quarterback Jacob Bailey, who started his second straight game, rattled off a 75-yard run to the Linden 11.
“That was our option play and I just read it perfectly,” Bailey said of his monster run. “The tackle came in, I saw the gap and just sprinted through. I was running like a little school boy, I was just so happy to finally break a big play. After that play, we were just so fired up and wanted to keep that tempo going the rest of the game.”
Unfortunately, Bret Harte was unable to come away with any points.
The Bullfrogs had a few other opportunities to put points on the board, but either ran out of time or were stopped by the Linden defense. Most notable of these came near the end of the first half.
The Bret Harte defense forced a fumble and subsequently drove down to the 6 with runs from Eric Diep and passes to Dustin Lawson and Jake Piel.
While effectively beating the Lions’ defense, the Bullfrogs were unable to beat the clock and time expired for the half.
If there was ever a game where this final score didn’t tell the whole story, this was it.
A look at the box score shows just how eerily close this game was. Nearly every category was so close that if one was to look at the statistics without team names displayed, it would be very difficult to discern which team’s stats were which.
First downs: 13 each. Total yards: 286 for Linden, 283 for Bret Harte. Punts: Two each with an average of 25.5 yards for both teams. Penalties: 6 for 60 yards against the Lions, while Bret Harte had 7 for 67 yards.
Time of possession showed a little separation with Linden holding onto the ball for 25:07, and22:53 for Bret Harte. Meanwhile, the Bullfrogs forced three fumbles and recovered two, where Linden forced two and were able to come up with one. The biggest difference was passing. For the Lions, Jacobs was only 1 of 5 for 3 yards, Bailey completed 5 of 12 attempts for 70 yards.
“He made some nice decisions tonight, and his arm is progressing,” said Bullfrog head coach Jon Byrnes of Bailey. “To come in and fill in at quarterback for the second week is respectable. He has a certain skill set and we’re trying to maximize that.”
Byrnes was also very pleased with the effort his team displayed, particularly in the second half.
“The kids came out hard, which is something that hasn’t happened yet this year,” Byrnes said. “I didn’t have to get them going, didn’t have to say one word in the pregame. I came in, started to do my speech and they said, ‘Coach, can we just go?’ They were ready, and I was really proud of them for that. They came out of halftime down 14-0, and they were ready for the second half and played hard. They played four quarters, and even though the outcome wasn’t what we would have liked, I’m proud of them for that.”
Next week, Bret Harte will go up against the Argonaut Mustangs (4-4, 2-1 Mother Lode League), who are coming off a 41-14 loss against Calaveras. Their notorious power-running game will no doubt be a bit of adversity for the Bullfrogs to overcome, but Coach Byrnes is confident.
“Everyone knows it’s coming, and we just need to put our guys in the best position possible to stop it,” Byrnes said. “We’ve seen other teams, such as Linden, have ball control against Argonaut, and we feel we can have ball control too. Our offense just needs to keep up.”