NASHVILLE, TN — Putting an expansion franchise together is a tough process. For the Middle Tennessee Bulldawgs, the process has been up and down. This past Saturday, the Bulldawgs (9-0) defeated the Middle Tennessee Football League’s defending champion Dickson Chaos (7-2) 7-0 in a hard-fought game at Maplewood High School.
“Well I am happy with the win, I think my team hasn’t played up to their potential,” said Bulldawg head coach Blaine Boone. “Our defense bailed us out. They had chance after chance but we dug deep. This was another statement win for our franchise.”
The Chaos took a page out of the Middle Tennessee Tigers’ playbook from the week before. They used a ball control running attack to keep the ball out of the Bulldawgs’ hand. They also learned from the previous game with the Bulldawgs which they threw seven interceptions. Their running game kept the Bulldawg defense off balanced. The only turnover they had was on a kickoff return.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Bulldawgs put together the game’s only scoring drive. Quarterback Jason Hankins hit wide receiver Lawrence Gilbert on a 29-yard pass to take the lead with 2:04 left. On the ensuing kickoff, Bulldawg veteran Jeff Patterson laid a huge hit on the Dickson returner to force a fumble recovered by Justin Hill.
“We haven’t really done much on coverage this year so it felt good to make a play,” said Patterson. “I pride myself on making plays on special teams. We still have a lot of work to do though.”
Patterson’s assessment came true on the opening kickoff of the second half. Chaos returner Terry Lewis was one player away from breaking it for a touchdown. Bulldawg kicker Tim Brecht gave him a big hit at the 50-yard line. The return started a second half in which Dickson owned the field positon battle. Each team had drives that stalled and had to punt throughout the third and fourth quarters.
At the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, the Bulldawgs decided to go for a fourth down on their own 24-yard line. The fourth and inches play was stopped by Dickson and they were in business. On third down and long, Bulldawg defensive end Romeo Gilbert was called for a roughing the quarterback penalty giving Dickson a first and goal at the Bulldawg nine-yard line. The Bulldawgs defense stood strong giving their offense the ball with two minutes left in the game.
“We were determined to not let them score,” said Bulldawg defensive back Marcus Hill. “Our offense went for it and didn’t get it. The only reason we took that chance is because our coaches believe in us. We couldn’t let them down.”
On third and five, Hankins rushed for a first down. On the ensuing play, running back Keon Bohannon (25 carries 141 yards) ran for 17 yards to put the game to rest. The victory propelled the Bulldawgs into the MTFL championship game. They will take on the Nashville Elite (7-2) a team they defeated Week 1 30-0.
• Lawrence Gilbert scored his second touchdown in as many weeks.
• The Bulldawg defense recorded their fourth shutout of the season. The team has only given up 30 points all season. The defense has been on the field for two touchdowns.
• The last touchdown scored against the Bulldawgs was against the Lebanon Hitmen on a fumble recovery during their Week 5 14-8 victory.
• All the touchdowns during the postseason have come on Jason Hankins passes.