Bulldogs narrowly lose to Palo Duro

(A big thank you to Eric Rodewald who covered the Friday night football game in our sports editor's absence.)In the final non-district contest for the Bulldogs, Borger pounded its way to a 19-0 lead behind the backfield tandem of Dontrae Butler and Kendrick Freeman. The two Borger running backs rushed 58 times for a combined 260 yards before Palo Duro raced back Friday night dropping the Bulldogs in a heartbreaker, 20-19 at Bulldog Stadium.Borger head coach James Day had high praise for his running backs efforts Friday night, “They did a good job and ran hard,” Day said. “We played hard with guys out and kids in the lineup for the first time.”With the prior loss of starting quarterback Jacob Rendon, backup sophomore signal caller Zac Guinn did a good job of executing the game plan and running the offense according to Day. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs with a half dozen players out due to injuries, the new personnel’s timing proved to be costly as Borger was penalized 15 times for 104 yards including numerous false start penalties.The Bulldogs received to start the game as Austin Henry returned the opening kickoff 19 yards to the Borger 43-yard line. Nine plays later the drive stalled at the Palo Duro 27-yard line, but a four and out for the Dons and a 22-yard punt gave the Bulldogs excellent field position at their own 48-yard line.Despite three false start penalties, Borger cashed in on an eight play drive with Butler scoring from 2-yards out with 2:29 remaining in the first quarter. Junior kicker Alexis Aguilar converted the extra point, and the Bulldogs had an early 7-0 lead.The Bulldogs defense continued to be stingy forcing another punt in four plays, a 17 yarder from PD punter Tim Estrada, giving Borger the ball at the Dons’ 49-yard line. An offside penalty started the drive at the PD 44.Borger maintained their ground attack and ran the ball nine straight plays, capped by a two yard dash from Butler with 8:49 left in the second quarter for a 13-0 lead. The PAT kick was blocked by Palo Duro.PD’s Joseph Taylor mishandled the ensuing kickoff from Aguilar, which was recovered by Bulldog senior Jonathan Jeter at the Dons’ 37-yard line. An unsportsmanlike penalty started Borger’s drive at the PD 22-yard line. Another unsportsmanlike penalty assessed on the Dons’ moved the ball to the 10-yard line.Three plays later, Freeman scored on a 2-yard run, giving Borger a 19-0 lead with 7:30 remaining in the first half. The Bulldogs went for two, but Freeman was unable to punch the ball in the end zone.The Borger defense forced Palo Duro into its third consecutive three-and-out with PD punter Estrada kicking it 42 yards which equaled the combined yardage from his first two punts.Borger’s ensuing drive started on its own 19-yard line and ended when Bulldog senior punter Lane Newcomb booted a 35 yarder that was returned by PD’s Montreal Meander 27 yards to the Borger 22.Following a pair of incomplete passes, Palo Duro quarterback Malik Sims scampered for 19 yards to the Borger 3-yard line. Anthony McLain scored three plays later from a yard out. Estrada added the PAT kick to cut Borger’s lead to 19-7 with 3:15 remaining in the second quarter.Palo Duro regained possession after a Borger punt with 48.8 seconds left in the half. A pair of first downs allowed Sims the opportunity to throw in the end zone from the Borger 38 as time expired, but the pass was incomplete and the Bulldogs maintained a 19-7 lead.Little time was wasted to start the second half when Sims raced 34 yards to cap a five play drive cutting Borger’s lead to five following Estrada’s PAT kick conversion with 9:19 left in the third quarter.Borger’s ensuing drive ended in a 37 yard Newcomb punt, that Meander lost another eight yards on, pinning PD at its own 22.After a 14 yard run and a PD first down, junior defensive back Cody Jensen intercepted a Sims pass, giving the Bulldogs the ball at the PD 42-yard line.Freeman and Butler alternated rushes until a 10 yard holding penalty forced Borger into a second and 19 from the PD 31-yard line. After 38 straight rushes, Guinn went to the air for the first time, resulting in an incomplete pass intended for Jared Salinas. Following a four yard Butler run, Aguilar attempted a 45 yard field goal which fell short and to the left ending the drive.The ensuing possession proved to be costly for the Bulldogs when it appeared the stiff Borger defense was going to force another three and out for the Dons. Borger senior defensive end Zac Suttle stuffed PD’s third down rush attempt, tackling Taylor for a three yard loss, and forcing a fourth and seven from the PD 30-yard line. The Palo Duro punter Estrada bobbled the snap and could only muster an 18 yard punt, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Dons an automatic first down to end the third quarter and keep its drive alive at the PD 45-yard line.Four plays later Sims connected with PD senior wideout Xavier Dixon for a 25 yard touchdown. The Dons opted to go for two, but a pass in the flat was thwarted by Bulldog defensive back Henry making the tackle for a loss. However, Palo Duro captured a 20-19 lead with 10:43 left in the game.Borger was unable to score on its next possession and Suttle made a pair of tackles for losses, 19 and two yards respectively, to force PD to surrender the ball back to the Bulldogs for one final possession.Borger started its final drive with 4:41 left at its own 23-yard line. Following four rushing plays and a pair of incomplete passes, Guinn connected with junior wide receiver Colton Hunter for a 15 yard gain to the PD 45-yard line.Freeman followed with an eight yard run, but lost four yards on a fumble that he recovered and three yards on third down. On fourth down, Butler gutted out a 14 yard gain the longest run of the night for the Bulldogs to keep the drive alive. After a four yard Freeman run, Guinn spiked the ball to kill the clock, as the Bulldogs were out of timeouts. A false start and a minus yard run, spotted the ball at the PD 32-yard line with 5.9 seconds remaining and Palo Duro called a timeout giving Borger the ability to attempt a game winning field goal.The 50 yard field goal attempt was blocked ending the game.Freeman led the Bulldogs in rushing with 139 yards on 32 carries, while Butler carried 26 times for 121 yards. Guinn was one-for-five in the passing department with the one completion to Hunter for 15 yards. Sims completed 10 passes for 114 yards. The Bulldogs outgained PD by 65 yards for the game. The Bulldogs defense held PD to almost half of its season scoring average with the Dons’ averaging 39.5 points per game.Although the Bulldogs fall to 0-6, Borger’s tough pre-district schedule featured four District 3-4A opponents in Randall, Caprock, Dumas, and PD. Despite not earning a win, Borger fell to three of the four teams by a combined 11 points, falling to Caprock, 50-47; Dumas, 35-28; and Palo Duro, 20-19. Palo Duro improves to 4-1 and opens District 3-4A play at Amarillo High next week.The Bulldogs now have two weeks to prepare for its District 1-3A opener versus Dalhart (4-2). Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium on Oct. 19.Palo Duro 0 7 7 6 — 20Borger 7 12 0 0 — 19 B –Butler 2 yard run (Aguilar kick) B – Butler 2 yard run (kick failed) B – Freeman 2 yard run (run failed) P – McLain 1 yard run (Estrada kick) P – Sims 34 yard run (Estrada kick) P – Sims 25 yard pass to Dixon (pass failed)