NASHVILLE, TN — The Middle Tennessee Bulldawgs (5-0) have played this season with a target on their back. Every opponent seems to give their best shot, even though this is their first year in existence. This past Saturday was no different, in their 14-8 victory over the Lebanon Hitmen (2-3) in non-conference play in the Middle Tennessee Football League.
“It’s tough to have a team with so much talent that struggles to play up to the expectations,” said Bulldawg head coach Blaine Boone. “The Hitmen are the standard on this level They do things right over there. We were in a dogfight all night. I guess I should be happy with the win. They exposed us and basically dominated us the whole night.”
The Hitmen’s defense gave the Bulldawgs fits all night. In the game’s first series, JT Majors intercepted a Jason Hankins pass with the Bulldawgs driving. Lebanon was content with running the clock as much thy could and then in the middle of the second quarter, they struck first. After forcing a third and long, Bulldawg quarterback Alvin Stokes dumped a pass to running back Kenneth Marlowe. Marlowe tried to get extra yards and was stripped by Majors who raced 43 yards for a touchdown. Hitmen quarterback Clifford Lett then hit a receiver in the right corner of the end zone to make the score 8-0.
The second half started with another defensive stop by the Bulldawgs. Lebanon kicked it short and Chris Perkins was one tackler away from breaking it all the way. After their next defensive possession, Perkins once again came close to scoring on a punt return. He did make it inside the Hitmen 20-yard line. Stokes then hit running back Jermaine O’Connor on a five-yard touchdown. A two-point conversation tied the score at eight.
After another defensive stop, Randall Smith ran a punt back 76 yards to give the Bulldawgs a 14-8 lead. The Hitmen didn’t go away quietly. On their final possession of the game, they drove down to Bulldawg five-yard line. On fourth down, they were stopped inches away from a first down with less than a minute remaining.
“We knew they were going to play us tough going in,” said Smith. “We made plays when we had to. This one was special because some of us dedicated it to our former coach BJ Holt. His poster is up in the home locker room so we brought it to the field with us. WE had guys like Keon (Bohanon), (Fred) Sparkman, (Michael) Maddin and Twin Johnson get hurt but fight through it. I love playing football and people like him instilled that love in me.”
Saturday, the Bulldawgs will face the Clarksville Rattlers at 11am at Maplewood.