Merrillville defeats Bulldogs 34-26 league-opening win at Crown Point
A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith
|The Bulldogs take the field Friday against arch-rival Merrillville. (All photos by Mark Smith.)|
|Tyler Gomez (42) breaks a tackle on his first quarter TD run.|
|Vince Smith (7) tries to get to Merrillville QB Cam Wright (3) before he can get off another pass.|
|CP wide receiver Eric Mahaffey (13) breaks loose after another reception early in Friday's game against Merrillville.|
|It's not holding unless they call it. CP receiver Tim Angel (21) battles with Merrillville defensive back Tyler Henderson (9).|
|Merrillville's Tyler Henderson (9) tries to guess what play Crown Point QB Ryan Bola (19) is calling.|
|CP junior Christian Berry (4) find running room around left end in the first quarter.|
|Michael Shell (58) is in pursuit of CP's Eric Mahaffey (13) after a short pass play.|
|Merrillville's Zaire Moss (20) puts the pas rush on CP quarterback Ryan Bolda (19) in Friday night's game. Merrillville led the way.|
|The 'Bulldog' puppy draws a lot of attention in the CP student section. All Bulldogs get in for free.|
|CP center Jacob Keaveney (72) is the body guard for halfback Tyler Gomez (42) Friday night. CP gained over 400 yards but lost 34-26.|
|Merrillville senior Anthony Swims (22) wore the Pirates' championship belt after he grabbed two interceptions in Merrillville's victory at Crown Point last Friday. (All photos by Mark Smith.)|
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|MERRILLVILLE (1-2, 1-0 DAC)||0||14||7||13||34|
|CROWN POINT (1-2, 0-1 DAC)||0||6||13||7||26|
Friday, September 1, 2017 - 68 degrees at kickoff - Duneland Athletic Conference opener at CROWN POINT, Ind.
2nd Qtr: MERRILLVILLE (7-0) Anthony Swims, 75-yard interception return. Meagan Wise kick. 11:46 left.
CROWN POINT (7-6) Tyler Gomez, 27-yard run. 65-yard drive, 7 plays. Kick hit the right goal post. 6:49 left.
MERRILLVILE (14-6) Justin Rhodes, 72-yard run. 72-yard drive, 1 play. Meagan Wise kick. 6:21 left.
3rd Qtr: CROWN POINT (14-12) Ben Fridrich, 31-yard TD pass from Ryan Bolda. 58-yard drive, 5 plays. 2-point run failed. 9:16 left.
MERRILLVILE (21-12) Tray Shawn McMorris, 39-yard run. 82-yard drive, 10 plays. Meagan Wise kick. 5:30 left.
CROWN POINT (21-19) Scott Mills 3-yard run. 65-yard drive, 9 plays. Ben Fridrich kick. 2:26 left.
4th Qtr: MERRILLVILLE (28-19) Justin Rhodes, 5-yard run. 59-yard drive, 8 plays. Meagan Wise kick. 11:20 left.
MERRILLVILLE (34-19) Cam Wright, 10-yard run. 25-yard drive after interception by Anthony Swims. Kick wide. 8:06 left.
CROWN POINT (34-26) Tyler Gomez, 11-yard run. 65-yard drive, 3 plays. Ben Fridrich kick. 7:02 left.
MERRILLVILLE (21 carries, 184 yards, 4 TDs, one fumble): Cam Wright (QB) 7
carries, 20 yards (one sack minus-9) one TD; Justin Rhodes (HC) 7-110 yards, 2
TDs; Tray Shawn McMorris (HB) 7-54 yards, TD.
CROWN POINT (40 carries, 216 yards, 3 TDs, 0 fumbles): Tylee Gomez (HB) 31 carries, 169 yards, 2 TDs; Chris Berry (HB) 4-29 yards; Scvot Mills (HB) 2-3 yards, Ryan Bolda (QB) 2-10 yards, Eric Mahaffey 1-5 yards.
MERRILLVILLE: Cam Wright (QB) 7 of 14, 98 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs;
CROWN POINT: Ryan Bolda (QB) 10 of 21 188 yards, one TD, 2 interceptions.
MERRILLVILLE: Tyjohn Lockett (WR) 3-42 yards; Markus Fielder (WR) 2-27 yards, Justin Rhodes (HB) 1-14 yards; Khalid Porter (WR) 1-9 yards.
CROWN POINT: Tyler Jones (WR) 1-30 yards, Ben Fridrich (TE) 1-31 yards, TD; Eric Mahaffey (WR) 4-54 yards, Ben Schoettle (R) 2-72 yards, Tyler Gomez (HB) 1-6 yards. Tim Angel (WR) 1-6 yards.
MERRILLVILLE (2) Anthony Swims (CB) 2.
CROWN POINT (1) Vince Smith (DE) 1
MERRILLVILLE: 262 yards, 11 first downs, 1 turnover;
CROWN POINT: 404 yards, 17 first downs, 2 turnovers.
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With some of these high school football games, you think you know. But you just
Merrillville had no offense at all in the first two weeks, barely scraping out 13 points in eight quarters.
Crown Point's defense had allowed just three touchdowns in two games.
The Bulldogs were coming off a game where they ran up 463 yards against Highland. Merrillville is better than Highland, but surely, if CP could gain upwards of 400 yards again, they'd be walking off the field winners last Friday.
Crown Point unofficially gained 404 yards. Turns out they needed 405 to have a chance. A chance to tie.
Leading by eight points, Merrillville stopped Crown Point four times from the 4-yard-line, taking a 34-26 win over arch-rival Crown Point in a very dramatic Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) opener.
The Pirates (1-2, 1-0 DAC), who never led at any time in their first two games, never trailed at Crown Point. Sparked by an early interception TD from defensive back Anthony Swims and a very strong game from 'injured' junior QB Cam Wright, Merrillville erased their nonconference losses and served notice that they want to be in the running for the 2017 DAC title.
After three punts in the first quarter, Crown Point moved deep into Merrillville territory behind QB Ryan Bolda, who hit three short slant passes. But Bolda's fourth pass was intercepted by Swims, who anticipated the throw and took it back 75 yards to give the Pirates their first lead of the 2017 season.
CP charged right back down the field as Bolda was 3-for-3 again. Tyler Gomez broke loose on a 27-yard run to cut the Pirates lead to 7-6 midway in the first quarter.
Then on a read option play out of Merrillville's 4-wide receiver formation, Wright slipped the ball to senior halfback Justin Rhodes (5-9, 175), who zipped through the center of the CP line and outran the secondary for a 14-6 Merrillville lead. The Bulldogs forced two Merrillville first half 3-and-outs after that, but could not score, trailing 14-6 at the half.
Merrillville lined up with four wide receivers on most plays and Wright (5-10,
170), who was questionable to even play after hurting his leg against Penn,
running a one-man option with either Trey Shawn McMorris or senior Justin Rhodes
The Pirates scored four TDs on the ground, including a 39-yard run by McMorris that gave Merrillville a 21-12 lead in the third quarter. Crown Point rallied with a long drive and a two-yard run by Scott Mills, making the score 21-19 with 2:26 left. Rhodes scored on the first play of the fourth quarter on a two-yard run, giving his side a 28-19 lead.
Five plays later, Swims grabbed his second interception of the game and Wright scored on a 10-yard run for a 34-19 lead.
"They're a real good team," Wright said of Crown Point. "We know we're going to go hard against each other and we always play them. We know it's going to be a tough game. I have confidence in us even when I'm not in there. I was hurt, but a lot of guys on our team play hurt. I just did what I was supposed to do."
The Merrillville QB didn't say that this win saved the season, but he did say this win matters more than the Pirates nonconference losses to Andrean and Penn.
"Oh yeah," he said. "We're 1-0 right now. That's where we want to be."
Crown Point could not have won the game in regulation time but they could have tied it. Trailing 34-19, CP scored on a 65-yard, three-play drive that included a 42 yard pass from Bolda to Schoettle and an 11 yard TD run by Gomez. Two plays after the kickoff, McMorris fumbled and CP's Vince Smith recovered at the Bulldog 49. Bolda hit Mahaffey for 30 yards to the 18 and for five yards to the 4-yard-line.
But CP went back to the 'Wildcat' formation (no quarterback, 4 running backs) and tried to run the ball in. Gomez appeared to have scored on 2nd-and goal from the one but the referees ruled he didn't make it.
Junior Justin Ramsey (6-0, 270) led the charge that stopped Gomez on third down at the 1 and on fourth down at the 2, turning the ball back to Merrillville with 2:36 left in the game.
"We were giving up the line of scrimmage a lot of the day," admitted coach Bard Seiss. "But when we had to, we made a play. We've had our offensive struggles, but we ran the offense well. Cam ran the offense well."
"Our offensive line had a great week of practice. They fired off the ball and it gave us confidence."
This was a tough loss for Crown Point. The Bulldogs gained 404 yards, 17 first downs and four touchdowns. But they were chasing the purple-clad visitors all night. CP had the ball a lot. Made a lot of plays. Could have tied it in the final minutes. Never caught up.
BULLDOG NOTES: Merrillville senior Markus Fielder, a transfer from Clark, was on the winning side of a varsity football game Friday night for the first time in his career. Clark has been 0-10 the last two seasons and they have not won a game since Oct. 10, 2014, when Fielder was a freshman. Fielder (5-10, 168), a quarterback at Clark who moved to wide receiver at Merrillville, caught two passes for 27 yards.
Halfback Davion Ervin Poindexter, who gained 1,108 yards and 14 TDs last year on 229 carries as a junior, moved to Illinois and now plays for Brother Rice high school in Chicago's Catholic League.
Crown Point went to the 'Wildcat' formation twice in the game. In the third quarter, they scored on a 4-yard run from Tyler Gomez. At the end of the game they were stopped.
In the 'Wildcat,' the quarterback comes out of the game and four running backs line up in the backfield. CP used this offense near the goal line against Merrillville last season as well.
Merrillville coach Brad Seiss isn't shocked that his team has started slowly.
"We played pretty good teams," he said. Andrean is going to be good. Penn is Penn. This gets us ready. The rivalry that Crown Point is. The schedule that we played got us ready for tonight."
Seiss thought that Swims interception was the play of the game. "We weren't holding our ground too well on that drive, but we had a place to stand and Anthony made a big play."
"On his second interception, our entire coaching staff was yelling out the play from the sideline. We knew what was coming. We see them a lot. We play Crown Point twice a year. We're both really familiar with each other."
The Bulldogs' Next Opponent, 9-10-2017: