HOWE — Quinland (4-0) continued an undefeated season with a victory over the Bulldogs on Friday, Sept. 22. Corner back Chase Barnett and the rest of the Bulldog defense were the strongest point of the game for Howe as they took a hard loss to Quinland on their home turf. The Quinland offense was a force to be reckoned with but Howe did not make the victory easy for the Panthers as the shutout did nothing to quell the determination of the Bulldogs (0-4) defense as they made up for the lack of offensive success by picking up the slack and ensuring a scoreless second quarter and a low scoring second half for the Panthers of Ford High School.

“I thought defense stepped up I really do,” Howe head xoach Zack Hudson said. “It was a bright spot for us, and offensively we did some things right. We just couldn’t put it all together at one time.” Hudson spoke of the problems plaguing Quarterback Austin Griffin and the rest of the Bulldog offense who could not seem to get every player on the field on the same page.

Howe kicked off to start the game; the Panthers fell on the ball at the 32 yard line to start the first quarter offensive scoring campaign. Quinland let the Panthers off the chain with a completed 40 yard pass. After a brief time out, Ford made a successful rushing play to score the first touchdown of the game, following up with a kick for the extra point for a 7-0 lead in the opening minutes of the game. The Quinland offense maintained possession of the ball, making it to first down on the plays leading up to the second touchdown of the night with a rushing play and a point after touchdown for a 14-0 lead with seven minutes left in the quarter.

It was at this point in the first quarter when the Bulldog defense picked up steam and began to hold back the Panthers’ strong offensive running game.

“Everybody went right, except for one guy sometimes, and it was always a different guy,” Hudson said, adding that the young players are still adjusting to what is a new experience for many players who now find themselves filling bigger roles on the field. “It’s one of those things, a learning curve for younger guys in there, but I thought we did a good job of finding some things that are going to help us down the road.”

The rest of the first quarter would remain scoreless as corner backs Austin Lee and Barnett broke through the Panther offensive line seemingly with ease for the rest of the first half.

“I was doing my game plan and just following and going where the hole is,” Barnett said, “my corner stays to the edge and so there is a hole and I just go in there.”

The second quarter proved to be a stalemate for both sides with penalties and turnovers keeping both teams from being able to reach the end zone. Barnett and the defensive line directly contributed to the scoreless second quarter.

The second half was the battlefield upon which the decisive manuvers of the game were made by the Panthers. Hopes were high when a Panther touchdown was called back by officials after a penalty flag was thrown and the ball was moved back to the 35-yard line. The Bulldog defense stopped a running attempt but was unable to turn over the ball, and the Panthers would make a successful rushing play taking the ball to the 3-yard line where the Panthers would break through the line scoring the sole touchdown of the third quarter credited to a rushing play by Eli Chambers for Quinland with six minutes to go. After kicking for the extra point, the score would be deadlocked at 21-0 for the remainder of the quarter.

The final quarter of the game was a perfect example of the Bulldogs’ defensive drive and determination. The beginning of the final quarter was an intense final push from the Bulldogs defense as Panther quarterback David Welch seemed to have a bullseye on his jersey with tackles from Barnett, Jayden Harmon and Austin Lee highlighting the game for Howe by stopping nearly all of Quinland scoring attempts for the majority of the final quarter. Dylan Moreau stepped up for the Bulldogs with a play-stopping tackle.

Panthers called their final timeout of the game with 6:16 left. Barnett stopped Quinland’s advance at the 45-yard line for a Panthers second down. When it became apparent that a running play would be met with great resistance by the Bulldogs, the Quinland offense turned to a throwing game to seal the game’s outcome. The Panthers threw an incomplete pass and a dead ball. A personal foul call from officials would put the ball at the Bulldogs’ 42-yard line in the final minutes of the game. Barnett and defensive end Cameron Blesi stopped the Panthers attempt to carry the ball at the 45-yard line. The final touchdown of the game started with the Panthers’ ball at the 33-yard line. After a holding penalty, Quinland would be forced to throw the ball for the final touchdown of the game. The Panthers kicked the ball for the extra point to seal the final score of 28-0. The Bulldogs would end the game with possession of the football, playing to the very last second.

By the end of the game Barnett logged a total of 72 tackles so far for the 2017 season.

“A lot of my team helps me out with those tackles since I’m already low to the ground I might as well just stay low,” Barnett said of his attitude on the field.

“We just have to keep grinding,” Hudson said. “I thought there was a ton of good things going on. We just have to keep grinding, and I think we will get better.” He added that the team is still learning to adapt to the challenges presented to a team that is being toughened up by beginning the season against some of the best high school football teams in North Texas.

“This is a young team and they need that experience and once they get that experience and find that groove they will be alright,” Hudson said of the obstacles Howe must overcome in order to achieve the first victory of the season.

Quinland and Howe will follow up with home games against Castleberry and Caddo Mills, respectively, on Sept. 29. The Panthers will attempt to continue their winning streak, while the Bulldogs will fight to earn their first victory of the season.