Special to the Gazette
The much anticipated kick-off to the 2019 season for the Marion Bulldogs got underway Friday evening under the lights in Luling.
When the dust finally settled, it was the Bulldogs who walked away with the win, 31-13.
The Bulldog offense was able to amass 314 yards on the night. The defense held the Eagles to a stingy 146 total yards and held the Eagles to zero pass completions on the night.
In fact, the lone pass that was caught was an interception by the Bulldogs senior cornerback Jarett Fennell, who was able to take the ball the other way for a 20-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Junior kicker Juan Ortiz’s PAT split the uprights and the Bulldogs were up 7-0.
That lead didn’t last. On the ensuing kick-off, senior wide receiver Jeremiah Solis was able to elude tackles and return the ball 90 yards for a touchdown. The PAT was no good and after one quarter, the Bulldogs held a slim 7-6 lead.
After a three-and-out by the Bulldogs, the Eagles were looking to get something going. Just when a nine-play drive was coming to an end at the end of the first quarter — the Luling offense was faced with a fourth-and-two on the Bulldogs 41.
Solis, once again, put the hurt to the Bulldog’s defense by scoring his second TD of the night. The extra point was successful and Luling went ahead 13-7.
“We knew about number 4, Solis,” head coach Ryne Miller said after the game. “We knew he was a heck of a player. You want to know where he is at on the field at all times, as their receiver and secondary guy.”
Marion recaptured the lead after a block in the back call against the Dogs’ special teams negated a good kick return by senior wide receiver Hutch Rabenaldt.
A 39-yard pass from Goodwin to junior wide receiver Samuel Montoya gave Marion a first-and-goal at the one. Playing quarterback, Cade Baumann was able to find the end zone for the go ahead score. The PAT was good and the Dogs took the lead 14-13.
After both team’s offense exchanged possessions, the Bulldogs needed just two plays to cover 52 yards. Senior QB Zach Goodwin found fellow senior, wide receiver Jacob Devora for a 45-yard touchdown strike. with a little more than four minutes left in the first half.
On the next kick-off, Marion was able to recover the pooch kick. This time the drive ended on a fourth-and-goal from the four. The Eagle defender was able to get just enough of the pigskin to break up the potential touchdown and the Bulldogs entered halftime on top, 21-13.
Around the two minute mark in the third, a 70-yard touchdown by the Bulldogs was overturned by the officials.
With eight minutes remaining in the contest, senior running back, Ray Rayos scored on a 12-yard scamper. After the Eagles were called for an offsides penalty, Marion chose to try a two-point conversion and Baumann took the direct snap and punched it in.
On the night, Goodwin completed 11-22 pass attempts for 191 yards. Devora had two catches for 59 yards and one TD. In the rushing category, Rayos had 10 touches for 55 yards and a touchdown, and Baumann had 13 yards on five totes, a TD and the two-point conversion.
“We wanted to be competitive going in. We were. We knew coming with guys starting for the first time on Friday nights there would be mistakes and growing pains,” Miller said. “The good thing is, they are all correctable.
“You don’t need to spend a whole offseason correcting. Being smart with the penalties, the quarterback and their exchanges are things that can be resolved right now, and they did. We walked away with the win and we are proud of them.”
Holding the Eagles to 146 total yards gave the Bulldogs a good preview for the game next week.
“The true triple option that Luling runs is very similar to Navarro. Our defense did a good job at taking it away,” Miller continued.
The Bulldogs started several new linemen on the offensive side of the ball.
“Our offensive line is very young. We are starting four guys who are playing in their first varsity game tonight and they did a tremendous job,” added Miller.
The Bulldogs travel to Geronimo to take on county rival Navarro next Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.