It’s their team now.
A year removed from mostly sitting behind a mix of long-time teammates and talented transfers that led Baytown Christian to the TAPPS Division III six-man football title in 2018, this year’s roster finally had a chance to make the program their own.
On Saturday night, the host Bulldogs anointed themselves as the Bulldogs now as the No. 1 team in Division III played inhospitable host in 41-24 beat down of Emery Weiner, the No. 3 team in Division I behind plenty of big plays and even more hard hitting.
“This was beyond playoff football,” BCA head coach Jeromey Anderson said. “These two teams have been battling for years. The kids have battled and battled and what we needed to see tonight was the depth we have built over the last few games. Kids who weren’t playing in week one and two showed up and were huge.”
BCA (6-0) won its 20th straight game behind the play of the thunder and lightning running of seniors Jelan Dowdye (13 carries, 108 yards) and Jakob Wheatfall (10 carries, 80 yards) with each scoring two touchdowns. BCA finished with 268 yards on the ground and 326 yards total.
“It’s beautiful,” Anderson said. “You pound the ball and then you have that speed and elusiveness. It’s a great combination in the backfield.”
Junior Charles Flynt was noted for leading the defensive attack with a number of bone-jarring
Each team scored a touchdown in the first quarter with BCA Sebastian Wilson taking it to the house on a 15-yard run with 2:06 left, but Emery Weiner’s (4-1) made conversion was the difference in leading 8-6 after 12 minutes.
A five-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter gave BCA a 12-8 lead, but the Jaguars scored once more and took a 16-12 edge into halftime.
In the early moments of the second half, BCA’s defense stiffened and turned the Jaguars over on downs deep in the Bulldogs territory and that’s when Dowdye took over.
The senior took a handoff on the game’s next play and bulldozed then darted down the field for 59-yard run with 8:08 left in the third quarter and a 20-16 BCA lead.
“It feels good because we weren’t as tight, but now people thought we would lose against Emery and our offense and defense showed we could step up,” Dowdye said. “I can’t wait to see how far we go.”
Then the Bulldogs conditioning and toughness took over.
“You can we were in better shape,” Anderson said. “They are the ones used to hitting people in the mouth and they aren’t used to being hit like that. Our kids hit hard and it wears on them.”
Recovering an onside kick following Dowdye’s second score, the Bulldogs struck again on Wheatfall’s 22-yard dart into the end zone to put Baytown Christian up 26-16.
The Jaguars would score their final touchdown to pull within 26-24 thanks in large part to sophomore running back Elliott Ellis, who gave BCA fits all night.
However, Wheatfall struck again on a turbo-jet sprint to the end zone with 2:02 left in the third quarter and the conversion made it 33-24.
“In the third quarter, everybody started playing good,” Dowdye said. “First half we started slow. We waited four years for this to be our time and see us step up.”
Then Ellis showed his humanity as he fought for some extra yards on the ensuing possession, but the swarming Bulldogs defense stripped the Jaguar of the ball and the fumble bounced perfectly into the waiting hands of Cody Balzer who ran it 31 yards to a score and the hosts led by the final margin at the 1:51 mark of the third quarter.
The Bulldogs have been beset by a number of injuries and hurts all season and a number came to roost against the Jaguars. Thankfully, the team goes into a bye week and Anderson said he is happy for the convenient timing of the break.
“We got next week to lick our wounds,” Anderson said. “We need to work on cardio and trim the hitting while working on fundamentals. They are hungry. We don’t have the freak athletes we used to have, but we have players. We got the right amount of speed, bigs and hard hitters.”