By Brett Barnes

Casstown, OH – The Milton-Union Bulldogs entered the first game of the 2012 football season with a quiet confidence and optimism that usually surrounds a program following the success that the Bulldogs have enjoyed in recent years over Miami East.  But if you had told Coach Bret Pearce and his staff before the game that their team would commit six penalties and turn the football over five times and still win the ball game, he probably would have just shook his head in disbelief and taken it.  That is exactly what happened as the Bulldogs escaped out of Casstown with a 21-14 victory.

Before a packed, enthusiastic crowd on opening night 2011, M-U took their second possession and drove to the East five yard line on a David Karns fifty yard run, but the drive ended with a Tyler Brown fumble, and a theme for the night had been established.

East ran just three plays and punted.   With the Bulldogs taking over possession at midfield, they scored on just six plays with the key plays being a Brown redeeming twenty-nine yard run followed shortly by his first touchdown of the season, a one yard plunge.  Nick Fields added the extra point and the score stood at 7-0.

The Viking offense continued to sputter against a fast, stout M-U defense that has become a staple of this football program.   Following another Viking punt, the Bulldogs drove sixty-four yards on seven plays and overcame two penalties to make the score 14-0.  Cody Hollon hit Karns with a
thirty-eight yard strike, and Jacob Finfrock finished the drive with a fourteen yard touchdown run with Fields again adding the pat.

The game then turned eerily similar to last year’s contest at Milton.  Last year, the Bulldogs dominated play early, but the Vikings continued to fight.  Again in 2011, with everything going against them, Max Current’s Vikings would not quit.  Colton Bowling completed a five play drive with a perfect little pop pass to his tight end for a  fifty-seven yard touchdown, and the Vikings cut the lead in half 14-7 heading to intermission.

The half time stats showed M-U with 266 total yards to the Vikings 118, and it looked as if the Bulldogs were in control of the football
game.  However, following Finfrock’s touchdown early in the second quarter the Bulldog offense took a siesta.  Their drives from that point on were as follows: interception, missed FG, punt, fumble, punt, punt, interception, and fumble.  The fumbles in particular almost cost the Bulldogs the football game as each occurred inside their own ten yard line giving the Vikings first and goal not once but twice in the second half.

In what could be considered the most important series of the game, the Bulldog defense showed just how tough they really are.  The Vikings could muster just two yards on three plays, and a Josh Snyder field goal attempt missed wide keeping the game 14-7 late in the third quarter.

The second fumble occurred with just 6:42 remaining in the football game, and Miami East took over possession once again at the ten, first and goal to tie the game.  This time the Bulldog defense could not hold, and Miami East tied the score 14-14 on an eight yard touchdown run with just 6:15 left in the game.

Following the kickoff, the M-U offense stood sixty-two yards away from a game winning drive that would ease the pain of the last eight drives, one drive to survive.  THE DRIVE went thirteen plays (all runs), eight by Finfrock, one by Clay Minton, and four by Brown that took 6:05 off the clock. It ended with Tyler Brown powering one yard to give the Dogs a 20-14 lead with just two seconds remaining in the football game.

Following the Field’s PAT and a squib kick, the Bulldogs had won the football game 21-14.  Coach Bret Pearce after the game stated, “We are young and this was a lot of guys first experience in a varsity game; hopefully, we will see improvement this week from week one to week two. Our defense definitely won the football game tonight.”

The Bulldogs ended with 326 total yards to the Vikings 165.  Jake Finfrock led the rushing attack with 140 yards rushing, and Tyler Brown added sixty yards and two touchdowns. Cody Hollon completed three out of six pass attempts for sixty-two yards with two interceptions.

M-U travels to Oakwood to face the Jacks on September 2.