Harrisburg football Week 2: Bulldogs solve Du Quoin with 25-14 road victory

DU QUOIN - After falling behind 7-0 in the first quarter, Harrisburg scored 18 straight points over the next two quarters to beat Du Quoin, 25-14, for its first win of the young season and its first win over the Indians in six years.

The game was a nonconference matchup at Du Quoin's Van Metre Field.

"I told our boys if you want to go to the next level - dogfight - if someone scores we answer back," said Harrisburg coach Matt Griffith. "Last week was a tough pill to swallow and we took it personal and got back to work. Tonight they played for each other and we were excited to see it.

"The game plan was to impose our will. Everything we ran last week fell apart on us - we couldn't get it done the second half - so we challenged the offensive and defensive line. Good team win for us."

Harrisburg had lost three straight games to Du Quoin, losing at home in 2019, 47-13; in 2017, 33-27; and at Du Quoin in 2018, 35-14. The last time the Bulldogs won was a 16-6 victory in 2016 at Van Meter Field. The teams didn't play each other the last two seasons.

With the victory Harrisburg improved to 1-1 after a disappointing 29-28 overtime loss in the season opener. The Bulldogs hosts Paris in their home opener next week.

"We've got a new facility," Griffith said. "We've been blessed by the district and the community that has put us together a new turf field and a new field house. We are excited about getting back home and show Bulldog nation what we can do."

Senior running back Ross Rider had a career game and more, rushing for 199 yards on 25 carries with one touchdown. Rider's previous best game was between 60 to 70 yards.

"It was a good night, but when your offensive line blocks as well as mine did it was amazing," Rider said. "We worked all week to shore up some things in the run game and it really came through. Our coaches preach heart, so no matter how hard you get hit you have to get back up. They are a good Du Quoin team, but we kept running and doing what we do. Coach kept calling my number. It was a hot night and every single one of us was cramping, but we kept battling."

Junior running back Karmelo Downey added 82 yards rushing on 13 carries, including a 36-yard touchdown run. Junior running back Tevin Godsey also had a big game, scoring on a 25-yard touchdown run with 5:10 left in the game and then intercepting a pass with 2:35 remaining to seal the win.

Harrisburg took the opening kickoff and advanced to the Du Quoin six on a 21-yard pass, but the play was canceled on a penalty. A sack on 4th-and-10 gave the Indians the ball at their own 37.

After the Bulldog defense forced a punt and the Indians did the same on Harrisburg's second possession, Du Quoin took over on its own 20 and drove the length of the field on nine plays ending with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Camden Waller to PJ Winters. Joey Wood kicked the point and the Indians led 7-0 with 3:05 left in the first quarter.

Harrisburg came right back, driving from their own 34 on six plays and then Downey rushing in from the 36. The extra point was blocked leaving the Bulldogs down 7-6 lead with 11:51 left in the second quarter.

After the kickoff Du Quoin drove to the Harrisburg eight, but failed on a 4th-and-2.

Harrisburg then drove the length of the field on 14 plays. Facing a 4th-and-1 from the 3, the Bulldogs were penalized for illegal procedure, which set up a 4th-and-6.

After a timeout, Griffith called a play that Jack Ford and Henry Burris executed perfectly, resulting in a wide open eight-yard touchdown pass. Rider's run for the two-point conversion was stuffed and Harrisburg led 12-7 with 8.7 seconds remaining in the half.

On the kickoff the Bulldogs dodged a bullet when EJ Jones raced down the right sidelines for a 96-yard touchdown, but an illegal block at the 10 wiped out the score. The half ended with the Bulldogs clinging to their lead.

On the second play of the second half Burris intercepted Waller at the Du Quoin 47, setting up the Bulldogs at the 42. Six plays later Rider scored from the eight. Rider was stopped again on the two-point run leaving Harrisburg with an 18-7 lead with 8:09 left in the third quarter.

The defense came up big again on Du Quoin's next possession. Following two long pass completions Andrew Unthank picked Waller off at the 45 and ran all the way down to the 15.

However, Jubal Alvis returned the favor picking off Ford at the 10 two plays later.

The Indians cut the lead to 18-14 with 10:52 remaining on a 90-yard, 14-play drive that ended with an 18-yard TD pass from Waller to Jaelyn Smith. Wood kicked the extra point.

Following a failed onside kick by Du Quoin, the Bulldogs put the game away by driving 56 yards on nine plays with Godsey scoring on a pitch around the right end. Trentn Price kicked the point, extending the lead to 25-14 with 5:10 left.

The Indians were driving at the end, but Godsey put the nail in the coffin with an interception in the end zone, returning the ball to the Du Quoin 29. A penalty pushed it back to the 45, but Rider then kept the clock ticking with gains of five, 16 and eight yards to move the ball to the 26. Ford took a knee to run out the clock, leaving Rider one yard short of his first 200-yard game.

<b>Game Stats</b>

Harrisburg; 0 12 6 7 - 25

Du Quoin; 7 0 0 7 - 14

First downs: HB 15, DQ 15

Penalties/yards: HB 9-40, DQ 7-71

No fumbles by either team

Harrisburg rushing: Ross Rider, 25-199-1TD; Karmelo Downey, 13-82-1TD; Tevin Godsey, 4-46-1TD; Tony Keene, 1-3; Jack Ford, 2-2; Travis Fann, 1-(-4).

Du Quoin rushing: Jonathon Hamilton, 14-90; Cameron Ford, 4-31; Camden Waller, 2-28; Triston Webb, 2-13; EJ Jones 1-0.

Harrisburg passing: Jack Ford, 1-5, 1 int, 8 yards, 9 int. 0 TDs.

Du Quoin passing: Camden Waller, 9-15, 3 int., 154 yards, 2TD.

Harrisburg receiving: Henry Burris 1-8.

Du Quoin receiving: Jaelyn Smith, 3-62, 1TD; Gage Green, 2-32; Jace Colvin 2-22; PJ Winters 1-19, 1TD; EJ Jones, 1-19.

Harrisburg running back Karmello Downey finds a big hole for a long touchdown run. Doug Daniels photo
Harrisburg's Tevin Godsey stiffarms a Du Quoin defender. Doug Daniels photo
Bulldogs running back Ross Rider carves up the Indians' defense on Friday night in Du Quoin. Doug Daniels photo
Bulldog defenders Andrew Unthank and Gabe Swarringin chase the Du Quoin quarterback out of the pocket on a fourth down play. Doug Daniels photo
Karmello Downey is on his feet in the end zone. Jeff Jones photo
Bulldog quarterback Jack Ford picks up a couple of yards on the ground. Jeff Jones photo