FAYETTEVILLE — It’s been written throughout time that the Dutchtown Bulldogs had seen Starr’s Mill High multiple times over their history, six times the Bulldogs faced the Panthers and playoff implications were in four of those losses.
This game marked the seventh time the Bulldogs faced Starr’s Mill and the fifth playoff loss in school history after the Bulldogs were looking to break the chain of losses to the Panthers. But it wasn’t to be despite forcing overtime in the 25-24 loss.
It’s worth noting though, the Bulldogs struggled to stop the run at times against Starr’s Mill and a slow starting offense all but doomed the program.
Entering the game, the vibe from 2017 was still permeating the air around the Bulldogs. They’d faced the Panthers before in the playoffs, most recently in 2017 and there was one play that haunted the Bulldogs.
But that had to be put out of their minds when the game began Friday night.
Starr’s Mill was the first team to score after the Bulldogs’ opening drive ended in an interception the first quarter was all Panthers. Following the interception, the Panthers were able to strike first as the Dutchtown offense sputtered to start.
Starr’s Mill connected with a field goal in the first quarter as the Bulldogs struggled to move the ball. Starr’s Mill almost scored another field goal in the first quarter, but the Christian Castillo kick was blocked by Dutchtown’s Will Anderson.
Unfortunately, there was nothing Dutchtown could do in the second quarter either.
Starr’s Mill limited the Bulldogs to three drives in the first quarter, that ended in punts and an interception, but the Panthers struck once more in the second quarter as the Bulldogs’ defensive unit just fell apart late in the going and allowed the Panthers to waltz into the endzone on the legs of Kalen Sims.
The second half was a little different though for Dutchtown who got a lucky bounce on the Panthers’ opening second half drive. That bounce woke the sputtering Bulldogs up.
Dutchtown drove the ball down the field and ultimately relied on Arendez Fedd’s pass to Taurean Johnson for the first score offensive score of the Bulldogs’ game but that wouldn’t be all.
Dutchtown’s defense finally buckled down and forced the Panthers to go for it on fourth down. The Bulldogs gave their offense the ball with just 50-yards to go to the endzone and they did.
Fedd took the Bulldogs to the endzone in 1:07 seconds and their first lead of the night.
It was short-lived though as the Panthers returned fire with a touchdown of their own. Now, the Bulldogs were looking at what could only be likened to the 2017 game, just the roles were reversed.
Dutchtown’s defense forced a field goal attempt with 4:03 remaining in the game and that led to a drive of the ages for the Bulldogs.
With 80-yards to go, the Bulldogs had to manage the clock and the closing chasm that was the deficit, but they couldn’t score a touchdown late in the game. The Bulldogs just came up two yards short of the endzone on third down and had to settle for a field goal as time continued to work against them.
Dutchtown’s Ki’Mari Underwood field goal forced overtime and it all looked to be momentum from the previous scoring plays that would propel their postseason hopes forward. In overtime, all the Bulldogs had to do was score and prevent Starr’s Mill from scoring.
The first part happened. McCollum found the endzone from three-yards out and looked to punch their ticket to the next round as Underwood booted the ball through.
Unfortunately, Dutchtown’s hopes were dashed in Starr’s Mill’s chance with the ball. Sims carried the ball into the endzone for the score and then on a gutsy call to go-for-two, Sims struck again for the 25-24 victory as the Bulldog defense faltered against the run again.
SMHS 3 7 7 0 8 25
DHS 0 0 14 3 7 24
SMHS: Castillo 27 Field Goal (3-0, 6:21)
SMHS: Sims 2 rush (10-0, 7:43, Castillo PAT)
DHS: Fedd 8 pass Johnson (10-7, 7:12, Underwood PAT)
DHS: Fedd 31 rush (14-10, 3:23, Underwood PAT)
SMHS: Sims 11 rush (17-14, :42, Castillo PAT)
DHS: Underwood 20 FG (17-17, 0:00)
DHS: McCollum 3 rush (24-17, 0:00, Underwood PAT)
SMHS: Sims 4 rush (26-24, 0:00, Sims 2-convert)