Overtime win plus Middle Tennessee in line for division championship.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala- The developmental football world’s eyes were focused on Huntsville, Alabama
as the Gridiron Developmental Football League’s top team the Huntsville Rockets (7-1) took on the fifth ranked Middle Tennessee Bulldawgs (6-1). This was a rematch of the June 9 match-up which the Rockets pulled off 27-25. The Bulldawgs came into this game needing to win by at least three points to take over first place in the Xtreme West Division.
“We made some changes after that game physically and mentally,” said Bulldawg head coach Cromwell Stewart. “The physical part was our general manager (Scott Wallace) made the first two trades in the history of the GDFL. The mental was we challenged guys by making some demands as far as discipline.”
Just like the first game, the Rockets scored on their first possession when quarterback AJ Clark found a wide open receiver for a 32 yard touchdown pass. The Rockets had a chance to extend the lead in the second quarter when they drove deep into Bulldawg territory. Stewart called a timeout that seemed to fire his defense up as they forced a turnover on downs. The move seemed to also ignite the Bulldawg offense as well. Quarterback Zach Ducker led his team down the field and culminated the drive with a 15 yard touchdown pass to tight end Romeo Gilbert. After forcing a Rocket punt, Ducker found wide receiver Corvon Booker down the sidelines for a 63 yard touchdown pass giving the Bulldawgs a 14-7 lead.
On the Rockets next possession, Bulldawg cornerback Chris Perkins picked off a Clark pass setting up the Bulldawgs with a little over a minute left in the half. Ducker hit wide receiver Antwan Edmondson who was tackled at the one yard line. The Rocket defense made a key stop on first down setting up a field goal try that was blocked as time expired in the half.
Once again just like the first match-ups, both teams’ defenses pitched third quarter shutouts. The chess match continued as the punter for the Rockets kept won the field position game. The Rockets finally caught a break when they returned a punt 51 yards for a touchdown to tie the score and set up overtime.
The Rockets won the toss and elected to go on defense. That also paid off when Bulldawg returner fumbled that was recovered by the Rockets. Luck then came on the Bulldawg side when linebacker Mychal Hendricks forced a fumble, scooped it up and ran it back to the Rocket 30 yard line. The Bulldawgs were set up to win the game on a field goal but kicker Simon Hill’s 27 yard try hit the left upright. On the next play, Hendricks made another big play stripping the ball that was recovered by defensive tackle AJ Hill.
On first down, Ducker hit Booker on a post route to the Rockets’ five yard line then on third down punched it in giving the Bulldawgs a hard fought victory.
“Man, this was truly a team effort,” said Ducker. “We came down here with six offensive linemen and they did a great job. The backs ran hard all night and our receivers kept getting open. The defense has always been solid. I just felt they would not score on them. This was a big win for this organization.”
The Bulldawgs will now play the Lexington Red Dragons to finish out the regular season. A victory would make them division champs and gives them a bye week for the first round of the GDFL playoffs.