Walking on the field of Don Johnston Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday night, with the mercury stretching toward 100 degrees, a quick look at the rosters of the two teams was a good indication of which team would have the edge.
East Newton’s 25-man roster versus a 79-man roster Carl Junction was indeed a factor in the game, as the Bulldogs defeated the Patriots 44 -12 in the teams’ season opener.
Carl Junction received the kickoff and on the first down, Keynan Scheurich worked his way through the Patriots defense and scored on a 65-yard run.
Scheurich, who had over 1,400 yards rushing last season, set the pace to pick up those kinds of numbers this year as he compiled 234 yards against the Patriots, while never touching the ball in the fourth quarter.
Scheurich scored again with 8:40 in the quarter on a four-yard run. The Patriots responded when Dayton Clouse picked a Ryan Devore pass and scrambled 24 yards to score with 2:45 in first quarter. Scheurich scored his third touchdown with 18 seconds to bring the quarter to a close.
Patriot Coach Seth Johnson said, “We’ve got some things to clean up on defense, tackling. I believe in 11 hats (players) running toward the ball. When that happens, we might give up a big play, but not touchdowns. We have to work on running through the player carrying the ball, not to the player with the ball.”
Both teams moved up and down the field in the second quarter with little to show for it. The Patriots found some room to pick up yards on the Bulldogs along the outside and with the short pass. Patriot defensive back Clouse snatched a second interception stopping a Carl Junction drive. By the end of the second quarter the Bulldogs having built a comfortable lead of 20-6, cycled in replacement players to finish the half and secured a field goal with less than 10 seconds on the clock. The teams went to the locker room with the Bulldogs leading 23-6.
The beginning of the third quarter was slow until East Newton got the ball with 7:41 left in the third quarter, and drove into the red zone and scored on a 16-yard pass from Chance Liveoak to Aaron Millett, chewing up over three minutes in the process.
“I was really proud of the team and their scoring drive in the third quarter,” Johnson said. “The past few years we’ve had trouble getting back into the game in the second half, but we did tonight.”
Carl Junction responded, scoring twice, on 65- and 42-yard runs by Scheurich before the teams switched ends.
Both the Bulldogs and the Patriots rotated players throughout the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs’ Dominic Burnett scored the last touchdown of the game on a five-yard run early in the quarter.
East Newton will travel to Monett to next week to face the Cubs, who defeated the Seneca Indians 55-0 Friday night in Monett.