By Taylor Luckie
The Union Democrat
The Bret Harte Bullfrogs, following a confidence-boosting win over the Gustine Redskins last week, welcomed the Drake Pirates from the Bay Area to their homefield Friday night.
It was a physical, tough Bullfrogs' team against the athletic, fast-paced Pirates.
In the end, athleticism came out on top 27-17. In a closely contested matchup, the Kevin Miles-led Pirates put up just 278 total yards on the Bullfrog defense, including 148 passing yards, but was just enough to beat Bret Harte.
Despite this, the Bullfrogs nearly matched the Pirates stat-for-stat. While only gaining 80 passing yards, the Frogs outran the Pirates 169 yards to 130, with only three less third downs. The Frogs also had six sacks for 37 yards lost and only lost the turnover battle 3-2.
One of the Pirate turnovers was an interception by senior defensive back Brandon Kelly.
"I just tried to play the ball as best I could," Kelly said. "I kept an eye on the quarterback and my man at the same time and just happened to be at the right place at the right time."
In the first quarter, the Bullfrogs stalled the Pirates, forcing them to settle for a 41-yard field goal from Miles.
The second quarter provided fireworks with a combined five touchdowns scored between the two teams.
Down 10-0 following a Drake touchdown pass, Bullfrog running back Logan Lowe found pay dirt from 2 yards out to make it 10-7 on his way to a team-high 92 yards rushing.
The Pirates answered with a touchdown run of their own, this one from the 8-yard line.
Not to be outdone, Bullfrog quarterback Tyler Hagaman completed a 69-yard pass to Kelly, who also doubles as a receiver, that brought them to the Drake 2.
"The line blocked great, I just rolled out to the right and saw Brandon wide open," Hagaman said. "And he ran it all the way down the field."
From there, Austin Miguel ran it in, bringing the score to 17-14 with just under five minutes remaining in the half.
The Pirates capped off the second quarter, scoring on a 32-yard pass from Kevin Miles to Reid Miles to widen their lead to 24-14.
Each team kicked a field goal in the fourth, a 28-yarder for Bret Harte and a 36-yarder for
Drake, to reach the final score of 27-17.
While the Bullfrogs were not able to pull out a win, there is no shame in losing a close one to a team known for their athleticism and skill. The biggest difference in the game was no doubt the penalties, with the Bullfrogs giving up 145 yards as a result of the yellow flags.
"The kids are passionate, and they wanted to win two in a row in front of the home crowd," Bret Harte head coach Jon Byrnes said in regards to the emotional tone of the game. "We had something to prove - that we're a tough, smash-mouth team and I think we did prove that. It will be interesting to see what the stats are, but they're probably fairly close. I think we took it to them."
The Bullfrogs will need to buckle down on the penalties if they plan on beating the 2-0 Hughson Huskies next week, who are coming off of a 65-0 trouncing of Denair at home.
"We've got a lot of work to get ready for Hughson, we need to contain our mistakes" Hagaman said about preparations for the Huskies.
Coach Byrnes also realizes what needs to be done before next week, "We've got to clean some things up. We blocked better last week against Gustine than we did this week. Hughson's a better ball club than many we've seen. We just have to execute correctly.
"When our flow in the game is disrupted, doesn't matter what the disruption is, that we have to battle back and not lose our composure, but keep calm. There was a tide of things that, just, went against us. Some of it was our own fault, some of it wasn't, but that doesn't matter. We just need to play better football and learn from our mistakes."