By Brian Paglia
The Dutchtown defense had felt it all by the time Ola took the ball with 8:46 left in the game and a chance to tie the game. It'd felt exuberance after a goal-line stand in the first quarter, but it'd also felt exhaustion after 19 plays and 9:30 brought the Mustangs within a touchdown.
"We were real tight after that," Dutchtown senior linebacker Aaron Johnson said.
But, for 5:39, Johnson and the Dutchtown defense caught their breath while the Bulldogs offense churned and churned.
When the Bulldogs defense returned after kicker Ryan Kay missed a 52-yard field goal, it was refreshed and held the Mustangs to just 10 yards, forcing their Region 3A-AAAA rival to punt. Six plays later, Mychael Brown's 35-yard touchdown run sealed a 24-7 win at Ola on Friday to help the Bulldogs match their best start in school history.
Dutchtown (4-0, 1-0) encountered some difficulty against Ola's Wing-T offense, for the Mustangs compiled 184 yards rushing on 39 carries (4.72 yards a carry). Ryan Arnold had 15 carries for 93 yards, capping the 19-play, 80-yard drive that devoured the third quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run that cut Dutchtown's lead to 14-7.
But the Bulldogs produced four turnovers, intercepting Ola quarterback Ryan Gandee twice and recovering two fumbles.
"There were a couple times when we made some bad plays," Johnson said, "but we stood strong at the end and made up for it."
Ola tested Dutchtown's defense early. After Shaun Nichols Jr. burst for a 35-yard touchdown run on the game's first possession, Ola (1-3, 0-1) drove 75 yards to the Bulldogs 1-yard line.
Victor Griffin (10 carries, 48 yards) rushed for no gain. Trey McBride (12 carries, 35 yards) was stopped for a loss. On third-and-goal at the Dutchtown 2, the Bulldogs forced a fumble and recovered.
After forcing Dutchtown to punt deep in its own endzone on the ensuing possession, Ola took over at the Bulldogs 48. Griffin ran for eight yards. Arnold ran for nine. A scoring drive appeared imminent. But, Donovahn Jones intercepted Gandee as he tried to throw across the middle under pressure.
"Four turnovers. You can't win with four turnovers," Ola coach John Kovzel said.
Brown rushed for over 100 yards for the fourth straight game, finishing with 121 yards on 18 carries. His first touchdown, a 2-yard run, gave Dutchtown a 14-0 lead with 5:24 left in the first half. His last ruined any hope left for Ola.
But the Bulldogs improved to 4-0 for the second time in school history on the play of its defense. When circumstances required a stop, Dutchtown's defense delivered.
"Our defense came to play," Dutchtown coach Jason Galt said. "Ola ran the ball extremely well against us. But it's a tribute to our defense. They bent, but they didn't break. That's the old adage, but, hey, it worked for us. When they had to make stops they did."