The Chelsea Bulldogs football team came into Dexter with 21 wins in a row against their arch rival and the Dreadnaughts were looking to snap that streak in front of a large home crowd. But on a chilly, windy night it was not meant to be as Chelsea made several big plays to dominate early and never looked back en route to a 34-14 victory.
Dexter received the kick and moved the ball downfield but the strong Bulldog defense came up big as Doug Zarinnia jumped in front of Luke Coogan’s pass as he rolled to his right and made a great diving interception at the Bulldogs 10 yard line. The Bulldogs were unable to capitalize and both teams exchanged punts in the first quarter.
On a very good drive for the Bulldogs on first and goal at the Dreadnaughts 2-yard line, they lost the ball on a fumble and Dexter recovered. On the ensuing play right after, Dexter’s running back lost the ball and it was recovered by Dion Mite.
Chelsea quarterback Thomas Steele rolled out to his right on the Bulldogs first possession after Mite’s fumble recovery and he hit Hunter Neff near the goal line. Neff momentarily lost the ball but recovered the ball in the scrum that followed. As he was getting up a Dexter player kicked him and a personal foul was called giving the Bulldogs first and goal at the one-yard line. It was going to be a scrappy game between the bitter rivals. Then it was Steele putting his head down on the keeper and getting the Bulldog score early in the second quarter, giving Chelsea the 7-0 lead.
After a great kickoff that resulted in a touchback Dexter’s Coogan rolled out to his left and it was Zarinnia jumping the route and getting his second interception of the night. A penalty gave the Bulldogs good field position. Steele immediately took advantage of the short field and launched a perfect long pass to Neff who got down to the 1-yard line. After the 41-yard pass play, it was Aaron McDaniels blasting up the middle behind his solid offensive line to give the Bulldogs a 2 touchdown lead with plenty of game left to play.
Dexter then took the kickoff and drove 72 yards in only 5 plays as Mason Loudermilk capped the drive with a 3-yard score to cut the Bulldog lead in half. Chelsea came right back after a big kickoff return by Jacob Grubbs set the Bulldogs up near midfield. Steele wasted no time and hit Neff over the middle on a quick slant and Neff took it all the way for a Bulldog score, putting them up 21-7 with almost 6 minutes left to play in the first half.
The Bulldog defense forced another punt and it was a short one giving the Bulldogs the ball in Dexter territory. Steele threw a quick pass deep to Neff who took the ball to the 3-yard line where McDaniels would once again finish the job giving the Bulldogs a huge 27-7 lead going into halftime.
In the second half, the Bulldogs would once again score as Jack Smith burst into the end zone. Smith would finish on the night with 27 yards on 8 carries. Dexter would score late in the game as Coogan hit Andy Duran for a touchdown. Dexter threatened again but the Bulldogs held them as they had a first and goal and couldn’t put the ball in. The Bulldogs drove down the field and had a first and goal of their own but simply let the clock run out for an excellent show of sportsmanship, giving them the 34-14 victory and 22 straight wins over Dexter.
Neff was by far Steele’s favorite receiver on the night as he finished with 8 catches for 140 yards and 1 touchdown. Steele would finish the night early as Quinn Starkey took over late in the second half but he still finished with an almost perfect 14 completions on 15 attempts for 209 yards and one touchdown while running for 74 yards on 11 carries and one score. Sophomore Kyle Knight finished with 46 yards on 7 carries. The Bulldogs offense almost doubled Dexter on time of possession.
The Bulldogs defense only gave up 89 yards on the ground and forced 4 turnovers. Patrick Bertoni led the team with 6 tackles and a forced fumble, while Evan Vaughn had 3 tackles, 1 for a loss and James Mida had 2 tackles, both for big losses.
The 0-6 Dreadnaughts host Tecumseh next week as they look for their first win while Chelsea (5-1) will travel to Ypsilanti and look to secure a playoff spot and a Conference title.