Bulldogs end season with comeback victory

It was beginning to look pretty glum on the Kingman Bulldogs side of the field Friday night at Lee Williams Field when they went down 20-6 to Ironwood early in the third quarter of the season finale.

A fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half set up Ironwood on the Kingman 16 and two plays alter Aaron Lafitte burst up the middle for a touchdown to put the Eagles up 20-6.

It didn't look much better when the Bulldogs could only move the ball 31 yards on their first possession and were forced to punt.

But, then the defense rose to the occasion and held the Eagles to 4 and out.

Kingman took over on its own 48.

Running back Travis Lewis tried a run off tackle to the left and was held to one yard.

On the next play Lewis tried going off tackle to the right and burst through the line.

He raced down the middle of the field for a touchdown with 5:01 left in the third quarter.

Following a Mike Weaver kick for the PAT the gap was closed to 20-14.

The Bulldogs lived up to their namesake on the next two Ironwood possessions.

It would be late in the fourth quarter before the Eagles would get another first down.

But, Kingman was fired up.

Two possessions later the Bulldogs took over at their own 20.

After nine snaps of the ball they were on Ironwood's 45 yard line.

On a key third down and six yards to go for the first down, Dustin Sandsness spotted Derek Meins open on the left sideline.

The pass was right on the money.

Meins snatched the ball and darted down the sideline.

Ironwood's Robert Trent caught Meins, but the Kingman wide receiver shook free and finished his dash down the sideline to the end zone to tie the game at 20-20 with 6:37 remaining.

Weaver made the crucial PAT kick to give Kingman the final one-point margin of victory with a 21-20 lead.

"The first quarter it looked like it was going to be a long night," Kingman coach Ray Smith said.

"But, they bounced back.

We played better every quarter."

Ironwood (3-7 overall) took the opening kickoff and drove 76 yards in 11 plays, capped with a 19-yard pass from Jason Murrietta to J'Cory Horne.

The two-point conversion failed, but the Eagles were up 6-0 just 4 minutes and 40 seconds into the game.

Early in the second quarter Murrietta hit Trent down the middle for a 72-yard pass to put the ball on the Kingman 4.

Three plays later Trent ran the ball in from the 1 to put the Eagles up 12-0 following a failed two-point conversion.

But, the Bulldogs didn't fold.

On their next series Kingman staged the long drive that closed the gap to 12-7 on Lewis' 11-yard touchdown run.

It was the last game of their high school careers for the seniors and they made key plays and never gave up.

Lewis, who led the Bulldogs all season in rushing, had to have his jersey replaced after it was ripped to shreds on an 11-yard run up the middle for a touchdown in the second quarter.

Meins made the most of his opportunity to make a huge play when the Bulldogs were trailing by two touchdowns.

Phillip Cross grabbed a blocked kick on the final play of the first half to run out the clock and end an Ironwood scoring threat.

Eldon Sheely threw driving blocks that pushed his man as much as 10 yards downfield on running plays.

And Ben Parks pushed his teammates to hurry up and get down to business and play ball.

"My heart just went out to the seniors," Smith said.

"They took the lead and made some breaks.

"They made some huge plays.

The blocked field goal, the big run by Lewis, the big catch by Meins, they just made some huge plays.

"I'm glad they stepped up and got the win.

There are lessons to be learned when you win and lessons to be learned when you lose.

"They'll remember this game more than any other game in their life.

"I hope they take this with them and do something with it."

It was the first home-field victory of the season for Kingman.

The Bulldogs ended the year 2-7.