The Long County Blue Tide football team is still winless on the season after a road loss to the Butler Bulldogs. Despite the loss, the Tide defense had their best performance on the season in the 16-3 loss.
The defense opened on the game on the field by holding the Bulldogs to just two yards, thanks mostly to a forced fumble on the first play of the game. The Tide forced a three-and-out and the offense took the field at their own 43.
The offense could not get much started on their opening drive after the Bulldogs forced a six-yard loss on the first play. The Tide made it back to the original line of scrimmage before facing a third and ten. Tashawn Brown Brinson’s deep pass down the middle of the field was brought down by a Bulldog defender.
Butler started from their own 30 and got a couple of big runs before getting hit with a blindside block penalty. That pushed them back to their own 45 but they found an open man across the middle of the field and set themselves up at the Tide 21. The Bulldog quarterback found a receiver in the back of the endzone who made a good play on the ball despite a great play by junior Cam Johnson.
The Bulldogs struck first after the interception and the two-point conversion made the score 8-0 midway through the first quarter.
On the Tide’s next drive, Quintin Golden came in to take over at quarterback and junior Tony Phillips was able to get some movement on the ground, pushing them over the 50 and into Bulldog territory. The Tide could not capitalize on Phillips’ good movement and had to punt away from the Butler 47.
Do-it-all junior Dwayne Rowe skyrocketed a punt that bounced back perfectly to inside the five yard line, setting up the Tide defense with a great opportunity.
On the first play of the Bulldogs’ next drive, Rowe made a great play on the ball and knocked it away on a deep pass. The next play saw Ruben Guadalupe wrap the quarterback up in the endzone, but the Bulldog just barely got the pass away. The result should have ended in a penalty as there was no receiver in the area of the pass, which would have given the Tide a safety for the second week in a row.
Alas, no flags were thrown and that set up a third and long for the Bulldogs. They tried to pick on Rowe again down the Tide sideline but he once again made another incredible play and knocked the ball away, forcing a three and out and a Butler punt.
The Tide offense took over at the Butler 32 after a short punt and went right to work. They worked down inside the 30 and Rowe even picked up a first down on fourth and seven after an impressive dive to the marker on a screen play.
Even after the fourth-down conversion, the Tide could not pick up any more yards as the first quarter came to a close.
The Tide faced a fourth and 12 from the Butler 22. Junior Chris Garcia lined up for the 38-yard attempt. He booted it through to make the score 8-3. The 38-yard make is officially the longest field goal in team history, breaking a record that stood for over a decade after it was set by Danielle Bailey in 2006 (a 37-yard field goal against Jeff Davis.)
The Tide defense continued to hold strong on the Bulldogs’ next drive, but their quarterback finally found an opportunity to make a play. He scrambled around, broke a few tackles and picked up over 20 yards to the Tide 31.
After that big blunder by the Tide defense, they knew they had to step up. The defensive line got pressure and freshman Christian Jones even picked up a big tackle for loss by chasing the running back down from the other side of the field. They forced a turnover on downs and the Tide took over at their own 37.
Two big penalties and a loss on a run did no favors for the Tide as they were forced to punt the ball away. The Bulldogs got a few good runs and worked down to the Tide 25, but were faced with a fourth and long. They went deep down the middle of the field but the ball fell incomplete as the Tide defense made another big stop.
The Tide and Bulldogs ended up trading punts again as time ticked down in the first half. The Bulldogs led 8-3 going into the locker room.
The Tide’s offensive struggles continued into the second half as they could not move the ball down the field effectively. On their second play of the second half, they fumbled and the Bulldogs took over at the Tide 35.
The Bulldogs found some room to run around the right side on the first play and worked down inside the 20. Butler looked to increase their lead, but the defense stepped up once again.
The Bulldogs worked down inside the ten, but a penalty moved them back across the 20 as they faced a fourth and long. The quarterback dropped the snap, picked it up and looked to the endzone. He was under pressure from Bryant Bleyman and Joe Saddler in the middle and his throw was out of reach as the Tide defense made another big stop.
Another Tide punt gave the Bulldogs the ball at midfield. They moved to inside the Tide 40 before junior defensive end Chris Hamilton made a big tackle for a five yard loss. This was just enough for the Tide to force a Bulldog punt.
It was much of the same back and forth play for both teams the rest of the night before the Bulldogs set up at the Tide 39. They found a little room down their own sideline and raced into the endzone from 27 yards out. The two point conversion put them up 16-3 with a little over four minutes left in the game.
This was just enough to put the game away for Butler, despite the defense forcing an interception by Rowe and a fumble recovery by Bleyman late in the game.
The loss drops the Tide to 0-4 as they look to finally get in the win column next Friday at home against the 3-0 Jeff Davis Yellow Jackets. That game will be on Friday, October 2 with kickoff at 7:30.