By Marion Valanoski
For The Daily Item
Blake Bowman made his final regular season home football game a night to remember.
Bowman scored six touchdowns and ran for 326 yards in leading the Bulldogs past Line Mountain, 42-28, in a matchup that assured the winner a first-round home playoff game in the upcoming district playoffs.
The Eagles hurt themselves in the first half with mistakes and costly turnovers that allowed the Bulldogs to grab a 29-6 halftime lead.
“We hurt ourselves in the opening half with too many mistakes,” Line Mountain head coach Rodney Klock said.
The Eagles (8-2, 7-2 TVL) will be the No. 4 seed in the District 4 Class A playoffs and will likely visit Southern Columbia next Friday night. The official district pairings are due out today.
Line Mountain also had no answer, not just in the opening half, but the entire evening with Tri-Valley’s (9-1, 8-1) tandem of Bowman and Dalton Miller, who combined for 414 yards rushing, and constantly found a way to pound on and rush through the Eagles’ defense.
Bowman started his big night on the Bulldogs’ second series with a 62-yard run to the Eagles 18. He capped the drive with a nine-yard touchdown with 4:23 left in the period.
Bowman was a one-man scoring machine in the second quarter sandwiching TD runs of 3 and 1 yard around an impressive 50-yard scamper where he broke three would-be tackles and then outran the secondary.
The Eagles, who were held to 63 yards on the ground in the first 24 minutes, got on the scoreboard when Dillan Michael swept left end for an 11-yard touchdown.
“We had great offensive execution in the first half,” Bulldogs’ head coach Mike Kogut said. “It all starts up front with the line and both of our backs run extremely hard and don’t go down easily.”
Line Mountain tried to get back into the game in the third quarter when Cole Rickert found Jeremy Renn all alone for a 34-yard TD reception and then connected with Erik Smeltz for the two-point conversion to cut the Eagles’ deficit to 29-14.
Unfortunately, the Eagles could not handle Bowman in the final quarter as the senior standout scored on runs of 40 and 19 yards that offset the touchdown runs of Austin Snyder (2) and Cory Warford (1).
“I told our players they could come out in the second half and treat the score like it was 0-0 or we could hang our heads,” Klock said. “We are not used to trailing and this was a humbling experience but we gained something by the way we played after the break.
“Tri-Valley played a more disciplined game than we did.”
Michael had a solid all-around game for the Eagles rushing for 55 yards and catching five passes for 43 more. The Bulldogs finished the regular season at 9-1 and were really motivated in their matchup against the Eagles.
“We came out with a purpose and were focused for Line Mountain,” Kogut said. “These seniors also remember some of the beatings they took at the hands of the Eagles in the past.”