To watch the Frostproof offense move up and down the football field Friday night, it would be easy to think the Bulldogs had an easy time of things against the Avon Park Red Devils.
But the scoreboard told a different story.
Avon Park scored on the game’s second play, and hung on for a 7-6 season-opening win over the host Bulldogs at Faris Brannen Stadium.
Frostproof’s offense repeatedly moved the football, but repeatedly came up short on several drives. The defense was as good, and maybe even better than the offense, after giving up the early score.
But in the end, it all added up to one of the more frustrating Frostproof losses in a while.
The Bulldogs’ best chance to score came late in the third quarter. A 16-yard pass play to Ricky Cobb moved Frostproof to the Avon Park 24, setting up a 4th-and-four. But Jake Smith was stuffed on the fourth down play and Frostproof gave up the ball on downs.
Frostproof completed a 4th-and-10 play to Travis Harrington to its own 47 to keep a last-ditch late-fourth-quarter drive alive. The Bulldogs nudged into Red Devil territory on a pass interference call with 1:27 to go at the Avon Park 36. Two plays later, however, the drive, and the night for all practical purposes, came to an end when Red Devil defensive back J.D. Hardy made a pretty over-the-shoulder interception on his own six-yard line.
Avon Park, with the Bulldogs having just one time out remaining, was able to run out the clock.
The game’s only two touchdowns came in the opening half.
After keeping the ball for 14 plays on their opening possession, Frostproof cashed on their second long drive of the first half, moving from it’s own 25. The drive took 12 plays, and was capped by Dakota McCullers who bullied his way off right tackle for three yards and pay dirt. The extra point, however, was blocked.
McCullers set up the score with a 17 yard run just prior to the TD. Smith started the drive with runs of 10 and 14 yards, and a third-down and long completion to Kaleel Gaines turned into a first down when Avon Park was flagged for a personal foul on the tackle.
It looked as though the Bulldogs might march in for a go-ahead score shortly before intermission. After starting at their own 47, a third down pass completion to David Dyer, who made an acrobatic catch on the Avon Park side of the field for an 11 yard pick up, set up the Frostproof offense at the Red Devil 23. The drive stalled on two consecutive incomplete passes, however, and a 4th-and-10 pass play netted only five yards. Frostproof then turned the ball over on downs with 33 seconds to play in the second quarter at the Avon Park 18.
It took the visitors just two plays to score 52 seconds into the game. After a fumbled snap on first down, Red Devil quarterback Ryan Dick found Jarviel Hart over the middle. Hart had snuck behind the Bulldog secondary, and was untouched on a 66-yard touchdown pass play.
Last year, Frostproof opened the regular season with a 33-6 win at Avon Park. The Bulldogs used several second-half turnovers to break open a close game in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs, who fell in the preseason Kickoff Classic to Haines City last week, 13-6, are home again next Friday night when they host Sebring at Faris Brannen Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
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