Pilots Denied Homecoming Win
A controversial call at the end of the game may have contributed to River’s 14-12 homecoming loss to the Bridgeport Bulldogs on a rainy, muddy Oct. 10 at Hannibal.
With a little over five minutes left in regulation and the Pilots down a deuce, Joey Flannery hooked up with Craig Hupp on what appeared to be a nifty 75-yard pitch-and-catch into the Promise Land. Flannery was roughed up and there ensued a scrapping between the teams for which the officials invoked off-setting penalties. However, they also disallowed the TD, causing Pilot Head Coach Mike Flannery to go off.
“To come back from being down 14 points, and have it taken from you,” said Flannery, who complained that the score should have been allowed before the penalty was imposed and would have resulted in a River win.
“We had this one,” said Flannery, “But for whatever reason the TD didn’t count and the ball was returned to its original line of scrimmage.”
After holding Bridgeport to a third and long, the Bulldogs busted one up the gut and went untouched for the game’s first touchdown from 75-yards out at the 9:42 mark of the opening stanza.
Moments later, the Bulldogs recovered a Pilot fumble at their-own 41 yard line. After a flag, Bridgeport ran 49 yards to the Pilot five yard line where Broc Cross made a touchdown-saving tackle.
The Bulldogs would cough it up moments later and River’s Loren Thomas recovered the ball. However, the Pilots couldn’t move it and they had to punt. However, the slippery pigskin flew over Pilot Colton Wright’s out-stretched hands for a safety that gave the visitors an 8-0 lead in the first frame.
The Bulldogs returned the free kick to midfield. After a nice 18-yard pass completion and an 11 yard run, Bridgeport was in business. The Bulldogs would cap off the seven-play drive with a three-yard scamper to extend its lead to 14-0 in the second period.
River’s Drew Dietz recovered a Bridgeport fumble and the turnover helped the Pilots score on a Joey Flannery keeper right before the half. That cut the Bulldog advantage to only eight points after an eight-yard touchdown bootleg.
Thomas scored a six-yard touchdown in the third period for the only points scored in the second half.
Bridgeport rushed for 269 yards and scored two touchdowns, while the Pilots managed 118 yards and two TDs. River tallied 91 yards in the air on 11 completions, with the Mr. River Homecoming King Wes Smith catching four Flannery passes for 54 yards. Broc Cross added 29 yards on two snatches, while Hupp and Isaly combined for five catches for eight yards.
Defensively, Cole Isaly and Broc Cross shared 13 tackles and forced two fumbles, while Dakota Smith added eight tackles and made two tackles for loss of yardage. In addition, Mason Ladyga made 10 stops, while Luke Matusik and Braden Whetsell each nailed seven Bulldogs. Matusik also dropped three Bulldogs for loss of yardage, while Drew Dietz and Thomas each recovered a fumble.
Smith and Miss River Homecoming Queen Haylee Bowers were honored during halftime. The Pilots returns to action Friday against Shenandoah at 7 p.m. on Flannery Field.