CADDO – The Bruins got their first taste of district competition Friday in a 24-14 home loss to Stratford.
Caddo was just a few yards away from potentially tying this game in the second half when momentum tipped in favor of the visiting Bulldogs. Touchdowns by Corey Savoy and Zack McMillin (from Triston Paris) rounded out the scoring highlights for the Bruins.
“It was the little things, like missing assignments,” said Caddo Coach Jeremy Proctor. “We were fingertips away from big plays, first downs and touchdowns.”
Despite digging an early 14-0 hole, Caddo clawed back to within two points in the fourth quarter before Stratford freshman rusher Kyle Qualls scored a back-breaking TD in the final minute of the game.
Overall, Caddo played a lot tougher than the score indicates, especially at defense. But missed blocks and failure to protect the passer spelled doom for the Bruins.
“You push them all week, and it makes you feel good to see them come out and play like this,” Proctor said. “I was proud of the defense tonight. They showed us they have a lot of heart and character.”
Paris was 10-for-16 on his passes, and Tanner Grace rushed for 66 yards on 12 carries. Zach McKimmey racked up 14 tackles on a busy night for the D-line.
Stratford scored four plays into their first drive to take a 7-0 lead in the opening minutes. The Caddo offense had a pair of fruitless sequences in the first quarter, while the defense made good efforts against the determined Bulldogs.
Ryan Minyard and Austin Hawthorn sacked Stratford’s Randy Brown for a loss to end the quarter. After another frustrating four-and-out for the Bruins, Stratford ran almost at will before Brown connected to Dakota Noland midway through the second quarter.
Suddenly the Bruins were staring into a 14-0 hole. They would eat the rest of the quarter on a 12-play drive which went to third down three times, and fourth down once. Short gains by Grace and Savoy kept the drive alive, and with seconds before the half, Savoy exploded for a 10-yard score to get the Bruins on the board at 14-7.
Caddo used seven minutes of the third quarter on a 13-play drive which ended on the five yard line without a score. The Bruins were as close as the three. They got there on a highlight-reel, one-handed, midair catch for McMillin of a Paris pass for the first of four chain-moving plays.
Paris picked up 35 yards on three keepers, then Grace brushed aside Stratford defenders on a 21-yard carry to reach the four yard line. But the Bulldogs made their stand and a fourth-down pass was caught just outside the end zone paint to stop the drive.
After a good defensive hold to start the fourth, Paris was sacked on three straight plays resulting in a Stratford safety. But the kickoff was batted around by the Bulldogs and recovered by Caddo inside the 30 to give them new life.
Grace gained 11 up the middle, and three plays later Paris hit McMillin on a 15-yard pass to cut Stratford’s lead to 16-14 with 3:51 left in the game. It was gut check time for the defense.
The Caddo D got the ‘Dogs to third down twice, but they wiggled out each time. Qualls made a sweeping 18-yard run at 1:09 to put Stratford ahead 22-14. The Bruins forced the kicker into making a conversion pass, which was true for the 24-14 final.
Caddo (2-2, 0-1 in district) will travel to Wayne for their next game this coming Friday.