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July 14, 2020

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Football: Red Devils stave off Ada

Costly penalties for well over 100 yards, and two untimely turnovers hurt the Bulldogs

By Cort Reynolds
ARLINGTON - Visiting Ada battled hard but came up short to Arlington 26-12 in a hard-fought contest at Castor Field Friday night.

The Bulldogs fell to 0-2 after the tough non-league loss, while Arlington improved to 2-0 with the victory.

Costly penalties for well over 100 yards, and two untimely turnovers hurt the Bulldogs. The Red Devil running game also rolled up 370 yards to help offset a career night by Ada junior quarterback Brandon Hull.

Arlington scored on its first possession with a quick drive. Senior back Carter Essinger scurried 52 yards through a wide-open middle to score the first touchdown with 8:44 to go in the first period.

The two-point conversion run failed to keep the margin at 6-0.

The Red Devils stopped the Bulldogs and forced a punt that was partially blocked. However, a big tackle for loss by Brandon Paul helped thwart the Devil drive.

Ada took over at its own 24 and Zac Swaney snared a 12-yard screen. Will McBride caught an 11-yard pass but the drive was stopped when the Bulldogs fumbled just past midfield, and it was recovered by Arlington.

The Bulldog defense again stopped the hosts and forced a punt. Ada put together a solid drive and appeared to score on a 40-yard screen catch and carry by Swaney. But the TD was called back for a holding penalty, and Ada eventually had to punt on fourth and 17.

Devil Connor Faust broke off a 64-yard run all the way to the Bulldog five as the first period expired. On the initial play of the second stanza, Noah Thibaut scored on a five-yard TD with 11:56 to go in the half.

The two-point conversion run by Faust extended the Devil lead to 14-0.

Ada then drove 63 yards to score its first touchdown. Screens to Swaney, Phil Coulson and Daniel Mattson gained two first downs.

A pass interference flag helped set up a key fourth and one play, which Ada converted with a run up the middle. On first and goal sophomore back Keagan Hull plunged up the middle two yards to paydirt.

The extra point kick try sailed wide left to keep the score at 14-6 with 9:26 left in the half.

Essinger scampered for a 16-yard run on the ensuing Devil drive. But Bulldog senior Ty Miller came up with a big tackle for loss to stop the drive.

Ada put together a long drive from deep in its own territory. Multi-threat Brandon Hull scrambled for a first down on fourth and three. A targeting penalty after a completion advanced Ada to the Devil 20.

But three plays later on fourth and 13, Jaret Vermillion broke up a pass play with 20 seconds left in the half to keep Arlington ahead 14-6 at intermission.

Another big tackle for loss by Miller stopped the initial Devil possession of the second half.

Brandon Hull scrambled and juked his way out of trouble for a first down, then hit Swaney on a screen for seven yards. The elusive quarterback again avoided a sack and ran for another first down.

Swaney then hauled in an athletic 25-yard reception to the Devil five. Senior Coulson then covered the final four yards on a determined run into the end zone to cut the deficit to two points with 8:55 left in the third stanza.

The Bulldogs went for a tying two-point pass to Swaney, but it was batted down by Ty Webb to keep the Devils ahead 14-12.

Arlington recovered the ensuing on-sides kickoff try and Jason Launder caught a 12-yard pass, followed by a 21-yard run from Thibaut.

Vermillion's pass to Launder was caught despite pass interference at the Ada 13. Thibaut ran up the gut for five yards. On third and five, Thibaut muscled his way for four yards to set up a big fourth and short call.

But Thibaut was stuffed by the swarming Ada defense at the five-yard line for a huge stop.

A screen to Swaney was negated by holding, pinning the Bulldog offense back deep. A short run brought up third and seven and an incomplete pass.

After a short punt, Arlington gained good field position at the Bulldog 34. But linebacker Holden Purdy tackled Vermillion for a key three-yard loss on first down. A seven-yard gain made for a key third and six play.

Another tackle for a five-yard loss by the Ada defense brought up fourth and 11 at the 35. Arlington decided to punt, and it rolled into the end zone to give the Bulldogs possession at their own 20 with just under two minutes left in the third quarter.

QB Hull weaved his way for seven yards. Hull again shed a would-be tackler and connected with McBride for a 23-yard pass to midfield.

On second and 11 a deep pass fell incomplete, and holding was called on Ada to move the visitors back. Hull faked a handoff and ran 19 yards to the Arlington 39. After an incompletion, Ada faced a crucial fourth and two play.

Hull's screen pass fell incomplete to turn it over on downs late in the third quarter. On the very next play, Thibaut rumbled though a big hole and ran 59 yards to paydirt with nine ticks to go in the period.

The big momentum shift was quelled temporarily when Miller blocked the PAT try, keeping the Bulldogs in striking distance down 20-12 heading to the final stanza.

Miller alertly recovered the following kickoff. Big Arlington end Tyson Speyer came up with a sack to end the period, and Ada was forced to punt on fourth and nine from its own 30.

Two Devil fumbles recovered by Arlington kept their ensuing drive alive. Essinger converted a 16-yard run to move the chains. Yet Purdy came up with a big tackle for loss.

After another flag, the Bulldog defense held and McBride hauled in an acrobatic tipped pass to ignite the next Ada drive.

Bulldog senior Landon Blankenship rambled for a 24-yard reception. McBride caught another aerial over the middle for 14 more yards with just over six minutes remaining.

Two incompletions brought up third and 10. Hull's pass was intercepted by Webb, but pass interference nullified the play and gave Ada the ball at the Devil 15.

But after an eight-yard pass, the Bulldogs fumbled and Arlington made the crucial recovery near their own five-yard line with just over five minutes left.

After a Vermillion outside run, a personal foul penalty gave the Devils a first down and some breathing room.

A 15-yard run by Thibaut kept the chains and the clock moving for the hosts. Moments later, Thibaut scampered into the end zone on a clinching 38-yard run that put the game out of reach, 26-12.

Another extra point block by the Ada defense kept the margin to 14 with two minutes left to play. A short kickoff was recovered by the Bulldogs.

Hull ran five yards but was then sacked by the Devil defense. A false start made it third and long, leading to an incompletion.

On fourth down with 54 seconds left, Hull scrambled out of bounds but came up just short of the first down.

    1    2    3    4    F
Ada    0    6    6    0    12    
Arl    6    8    6    6    26

Notes and stats
Ada ran 74 plays to 50 by Arlington. The Bulldogs netted 420 total yards, compared to 388 by the Red Devils.

The Devils averaged 7.8 yards per play to 5.7 by the Bulldogs. Ada rolled up 23 first downs to 14 by the Devils.

Arlington rushed 45 times for 370 yards (8.2 yards per play). Thibaut led a balanced rushing attack with 181 yards and three scores on 18 carries.

Essinger netted 98 yards on 11 carries, and Faust added 64 yards on one run. Arlington totaled just 18 yards through the air as they completed only two of five passes.

Hull completed 31 of 49 passes for 292 yards. He also rushed for  112 yards on 13 carries to rack up 404 total yards of offense in a fine performance.

Keagan Hull netted 19 yards on six rushes. Ada totaled 128 rushing yards 25 on tries (5.1 avg.).

Swaney led the Bulldogs with 11 catches for 117 yards. McBride pulled down six aerials for 80 yards. Coulson made six receptions for 24 yards. Mattson added three catches for 21 yards. Blankenship contributed two grabs for 21 yards.
Arlington was flagged five times for 65 yards while Ada was guilty of 12 costly penalties for 130 yards. The Bulldogs committed two turnovers compared to one miscue by the Devils.

The hosts possessed the ball for 25:08 compared to 22:52 of time by the Bulldogs.

Ada has been outscored 77-33 in two games so far this season. Arlington has now won three of the last four meetings between the rivals.

Ada visits surprising traditional rival USV (2-0) next Friday. The Rams whipped Springfield Catholic Central 38-6 in their opener, then defeated Cory-Rawson 26-20 on the road in week two.

Feisty USV has just 17 players on its roster.