The game of football is often won in the trenches and the Bulldogs dominated in that area on Saturday with a 28-14 revenge win against Carthage. The Red Men beat the Bulldogs in the 2012 season opener in Adrian and that was just one of two losses for the Bulldogs. Adrian repaid the Red Men on the ground in punishing fashion. AC racked up 181 yards on 42 carries and set what is believed to be a school record as Carthage had minus-22 yards on 33 carries.
The Bulldogs used last week's offensive outburst as they took the opening kickoff and scored on their first possession. Adrian moved 80 yards in five plays capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by junior Dae'Von Robinson. Senior Damon Brown did most of the work on the drive with three carries for 63 yards. Carthage had an answer also scoring on their first drive to tie the game at 7-7. The Red Men went 71 yards in nine plays capped off by a 17-yard touchdown pass from A.J. Simoncelli to Jamahl Wright.
Carthage got the ball back after a Wright 29-yard punt return but moved just one yard before Brett Bukari missed a 46-yard field wide right. Junior quarterback Aaron Tenney late in the first quarter coughed up the ball and Carthage took over at the Adrian 28-yard line. The Red Men ended the quarter at the one-yard line and on fourth down could not complete a pass to turn the ball over on downs.
Tenney was intercepted on Adrian's next drive setting up Carthage at the Adrian 33-yard line with 10:45 left in the half. Carthage lost four yards on their drive and punted back to the Bulldogs. Adrian did not gain a first down and were forced to punt from their own 17-yard line. Senior Dustin Salliotte had his punt blocked by Terrance Allen and the Red Men took over at the Adrian eight-yard line. This time they capitalized as Simoncelli found Wright for a one-yard touchdown with 6:51 left in the half.
Adrian went into the locker room down 14-7 having gained 165 yards in the first 30 minutes. Carthage gained 121 yards in the opening half and went 5-for-10 on third down conversions. Adrian made the necessary adjustments after intermission and rattled off the final 21 points of the game. On the first Carthage drive of the second half, senior Deontae Bridgeman intercepted a pass and went 58 yards down to the Red Men seven-yard line. Two plays later, Robinson carried into the end zone from seven yards to tie the game at 14-14.
Carthage went three-and-out on their next possession and Adrian took over at the Carthage 36-yard line after just a 24-yard punt. Brown took a handoff on second-and-two from the 28-yard line and scampered to paydirt giving AC a 21-14 lead with 8:59 left in the third quarter. The teams went into the fourth quarter in a tight battle and the Adrian defense stepped up to make a game-changing play. Simoncelli was sacked and fumbled deep in his own territory and Bridgeman scooped up the ball and rumbled 13 yards for a score and a 28-14 lead with 12:27 left in the game. It was Bridgeman's third straight week with a touchdown.
The Bulldog defense created two more turnovers in the fourth quarter as senior Nate Smith picked off two passes on back-to-back drives by the Red Men. The second interception happened at the Adrian 22-yard line to stop a threat. Adrian's drive after the second interception seemed to put the game away. They moved the ball 71 yards in 13 plays and used over six minutes before having a 24-yard field goal blocked. Carthage had one more attempt late in the fourth but two sacks and a loss on fourth down ended the Red Men's final drive.
Brown rushed for 156 yards on 19 carries for the Bulldogs. Tenney went 10-of-26 for 112 yards through the air. Jack Carter had a huge game on the defensive line with nine tackles including five for loss and one sack. Bridgeman finished with six solo tackles (two for loss) to go with his big interception and fumble returns. Adrian improves to 3-1 and will start MIAA action at Hope next Saturday at 2 p.m.