TOLEDO – Swanton dropped to 0-2 under new coach Denton Saunders following a tough 23-20 loss to Bowsher on Friday in South Toledo. The Bulldogs led late in the fourth, lost the lead, and then appeared to take it back before a penalty call nullified a touchdown.
An eight yard touchdown run by Tyler Gowing put Swanton up 20-16 with 9:40 left in the contest. Gowing then recovered an onside kick by Riley Hensley and the Bulldogs were back in business at the Bowsher 43-yard line.
Two Gowing runs gave them a first down at the Bowsher 30, but they eventually had to settle for a long field goal try. Hensley’s 46-yard attempt fell just short and the Swanton lead remained four with just over six minutes remaining.
The Rebels then drove 80 yards with a key play being a run by Marlon Scott. He appeared down in the backfield, but the whistle never blew and he raced deep into Swanton territory.
The Bulldog defense forced a fourth and two from the 10, but Scott picked up three yards to keep the drive alive. Quarterback Larnell Williams scored from 7 yards out on the next play and Bowsher led 23-20 with 1:07 to play.
The Swanton crowd erupted on the kickoff as Josh Vance found a seam and raced to the end zone. But, a holding call nullified the return and the Bulldogs were faced with the task of starting a drive at their own 25 with under a minute to play.
Two screens to Josh Vance got Swanton down inside the Bowsher 40-yard line but they could not get in field goal range.
The Bulldogs played most of the game without starting quarterback and defensive back Andrew Thornton, who injured his left arm on defense in the second quarter. He is expected to be out 3-6 weeks with a radial fracture.
“We overcame a lot of adversity with losing our starting QB early in the second quarter and a few calls not going our way,” said Coach Denton Saunders. “Even with all that our players kept playing hard and had a shot to win at the end of the game.”
He was five of six through the air for 33 yards and a touchdown. Trent Weigel entered in relief, hitting 7 of 14 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown.
Both touchdown receptions were by Hensley, who had four catches overall for 75 yards. Gowing had 18 carries for 69 yards to lead the Bulldog rushing attack.
Scott had 25 carries for 166 yards to lead Bowsher (2-0) on the ground. Williams completed 7 of 15 passes for 157 yards and 2 touchdowns.
“I truly believe we made enough plays to win the game. We just didn’t finish enough plays to win,” said Saunders. “Defensively we missed too many tackles and missed a couple coverage assignments. We can’t do that and win a close game. Offensively we can’t turn the ball over like we did, we need to break more arm tackles and stay on our blocks longer”.
After a Swanton turnover to start the game, the Rebels took advantage. Williams found Trey Murell for a 55-yard scoring strike and 7-0 lead with 10:14 left in the first.
The Bulldogs then drove deep into Rebel territory but were stopped on a fourth and four from the Bowsher 12 yard line.
It remained 7-0 Bowsher into the second quarter when Thornton found Hensley for an eight-yard touchdown. The Hensley extra point tied the game with 9:20 left in the half.
Swanton forced a punt and added to their lead. This time, Weigel found Hensley for a 43-yard touchdown and a 14-7 Bulldog lead. It remained that score going into halftime.
Bowsher got on the board first in the second half as Erik Kirkendall hit a 38-yard field goal to cut the Swanton lead to 14-10.
On their next drive, Williams avoided tackles in the backfield and found an open Murell, who had gotten behind the defense. He raced to the end zone and Bowsher led 16-14 with about a minute left in the third, setting up the finish.
Swanton will play its first home game of the season Friday when they host Rogers (2-0).
“We are going to continue to improve on all aspects on offense and defense. We need to be a better tackling team, we need to force more turnovers and we need to get more players to the football,” said Saunders. “Offensively, we need to protect the ball better, finish blocks and spread the ball around to all of our athletes more effectively.”