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Blue Devils pull away from Bulldogs to avoid upset

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By The Staff

On their opening drives, Wartburg and Harriman each fumbled, but Wartburg’s resulted in a turnover and Harriman’s resulted in a touchdown.

Those opening drives basically told the story of the entire game.

Five Wartburg Bulldogs (0-2) turnover’s turned out to be costly as they were unable to snap their 23-game losing streak in a 37-16 loss to the Harriman Blue Devils (1-1).

Although Wartburg initially trailed 7-0, they quickly responded by scoring two touchdowns to gain a 16-7 lead. The Bulldogs offense was moving the ball almost as well and had the crowd heavily involved in the game.

“I liked how we ran the ball. I liked how we blocked,” Bulldogs head coach Kevin Human said.

However, it was only moments after the Bulldogs’ second touchdown that the rest of the game changed completely.

On the ensuing kickoff, Blue Devils wide receiver Giovanni Cromwell found daylight and took it to the house for a 95-yard touchdown return.

The return started an impressive streak of 30 unanswered points by the Blue Devils.

“We looked flat in the first half, we didn’t play with any intensity,” Blue Devils head coach Travis Tapp said.

The Blue Devils added a field goal to give themselves a 17-16 lead at the half, but the optimism was still high for the Bulldogs after a promising drive in the final two minutes of the half that ended just 22 yards shy of the end zone.

Coach Human started a freshman quarterback for the first time in Tyler Davis, and they were right where they needed to be, in spite of the turnovers. They also used Josh Moore a lot at quarterback too, who Human considers one of the best athletes he’s coached.

Moore finished the game 0-3 passing with two interceptions, but he was also the team’s leading rusher on 20 carries for 93 yards.

After an unbelievable start in the first half, the Bulldogs just seemed to run out of gas in the end.

“We just got to work to figure out why we’re running out of steam in the second half,” Human said. “It’s not because they’re not in shape, it’s just the culture up here has to change.”

In the second half, Harriman’s defense came out with an entirely different attitude. They completely shutout the Bulldogs for the remainder of the game.

After Blue Devils running back Trezdin Copeland added a rushing touchdown in the third quarter to make it 24-16, the team had made the game changing play.

On a Bulldogs carry, the Blue Devils forced a fumble and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown. This made it a 30-16 game and got the Bulldogs away from running the ball.

“The only adjustment we made in the 2nd half is that we played with a different intensity level,” Blue Devils head coach Travis Tapp said.

In the first half, the Blue Devils lost two of their biggest playmakers to injury in Sheldon Anderson and Chris Worthy.

Anderson later returned in the second quarter, but it was already the Giovanni Cromwell show by that time.

Cromwell was a nightmare in the return game with three returns for 136 yards and a touchdown. He also had a 20 yard touchdown In the first quarter.

“Giovanni is a big play threat at all times,” Tapp said. “We needed him and he took over.”

Anderson, a big play threat in his own right, made his presence felt when he returned. He still finished second on the team with 52 yards rushing on seven carries.

In the fourth quarter with around six minutes left to play, quarterback Bradley Frost had gotten hurt, and the Bulldogs had a 4th in goal from the 6-yard line. It was Anderson who took the snap at quarterback and made an impressive pass to freshman Landon Cox for a six-yard touchdown pass.

While Wartburg was the more dominant team on the ground in the first half, Harriman ran the ball down their throat in the second half, finishing with 291 yards rushing for the game.

The leading rusher for the Blue Devils was Trezdin Copeland, who had 120 yards rushing on 16 carries and a touchdown.

The biggest deciding factor from the game may have been the turnovers.

While the Blue Devils only had one turnover, the Bulldogs coughed up the ball five times in the game.

“The turnovers really hurt us,” Human said.

Wartburg will now turn their preparation towards Oneida. Harriman, coming off their first win of the season, will be taking on Coalfield.