Rockets roll; shut out Bridgeport

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Conotton Valley quarterback Evan Rice runs with the ball during the game against Bridgeport.

By Leigh Ann Rutledge

Associate Editor

The Conotton Valley Rockets continued their winning streak and celebrated homecoming wih a  50-0 shutout of the Bridgeport Bulldogs Friday night at Leesville.

It was the third shutout of the season for the Rockets, who also did not allow two earlier season opponents, Beallsville and Weirton Madonna, to score any points.

Conotton grabbed the Bulldogs by their chain in the early game and did not let go.

The Rockets first possession resulted in a 15-yard touchdown run by Maddox Walter. A two-point conversion pass from Evan Rice to James Burlson was good, giving the Rockets an 8-0 lead with 8:18 left in the first quarter.

Late in the first quarter the Rockets began to mount a drive. A fumble threatened to end the drive, but was recovered by the offense. A holding call, one of only three penalties called on the hosts the entire game, set the ball back 10 yards.  The disciplined offense quickly gained the yardage back early in the second quarter. An 18-yard pass to Ben Mauge and runs by Walter set Rice up for a two-yard keeper into the end zone. A two-point conversion pass was incomplete. The Rockets were up 14-0 with 10:23 left in the first half.

The teams moved the ball up and down the field and near the end of the quarter, Conotton Valley took the ball over on downs at their own 49 yard line. A run by Walter moved the ball to the 26-yard line of Bridgeport. Burlson ran it in for the score. A two-point conversion pass from Rice to Garson Imes gave the Rockets a 22-0 lead with three minutes left in the half.

Another Rocket drive late in the quarter was thwarted when Bulldog freshman Quinton Burlenski intercepted a Rice pass. The first half ended with the Rockets leading 22-0.

The opening drive of the second half resulted in a Rocket touchdown.

The hosts started the drive on their own 42-yard line. On a second-and-10 call from the Bridgeport 31-yard line, Rice handed the ball off to Walter who, once again, broke loose for a a score with 10:02 left in the third quarter. A two-point conversion from Rice to Imes was good, putting the Rockets up 30-0 and triggering the running clock.

A fumble-recovery by Rice brought up second-and-10 on the Bulldog 33 yard line. A 55-yard run by Walter, nine-yard run by Ethan Mauge and a two-yard gain brought up first-and-goal at the 2-yard line. Walter ran into the end zone with 4:27 left in the third. The extra point kick by Mauge put the Rockets up 37-0.

The fourth quarter started with another Rocket drive that resulted in a touchdown.  The combined efforts of Walter, Imes and Mauge moved the ball to the 13-yard line. A five-yard penalty for a false start against the Rockets moved the ball back to the Bulldog 18-yard line. Rice handed off to Walter, who reached pay dirt. The extra point was no good. The Rockets lead 43-0 with 8:41 left in the game.

With the running clock, the quarter ran down quickly. On the Rockets last drive of the game, a 46-yard pass from Mauge to Brett Putnam resulted in a touchdown. Mauge’s extra point was good to give the Rockets a 50-0 win.

Walter amassed a game-high 276 yards on 25 carries and four touchdowns. Burlson had 26 yards rushing on two carries and one touchdown.

Mauge went two-for-two passing for 49 yards and one touchdown. Rice was three-for-seven for 29 yards.

Brett Putnam had one reception for 53 yards and one touchdown.

Head Coach Don Hertler felt his team started out a little sluggish, with some bad things happening in the first half.

“We are getting better every week. We had some bad things happen in the first half but we’ve been doing better in the second half. That’s what we need to do,” Hertler said. “I am happy for the seniors winning on homecoming.”

Hertler noted Bridgeport did a good job trying to control the tempo, but admitted  “we’re just a year older and a year better than them right now.”

Prior to the start of the season, Hertler told The Messenger, he was installing an entirely new system in the football program this season: offense, defense and special teams.

“Coaches are doing a good job and our kids are doing a good job taking coaching,” Hertler explained regarding the new system. “If they do what the coaches say, we’ve got a chance.”

Even with the pandemic restrictions, Hertler said the community had been behind him. “I’m real happy right now,” he stated.

The Rockets are 4-1 on the season. They  host Caldwell Friday. Kick-off is at 7 p.m.

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