The Bulldogs (4-0) were also undefeated last season when a winless Midland Valley team pulled off a one-point upset. The Mustangs nearly did it again thanks to a surprising second-half passing game and Silver Bluff’s problems with the penalty flags.
“We had some big plays called back,” Bulldogs coach Al Lown said. “We didn’t come out here very focused tonight. Give them a lot of credit. They played tough on us. They always play a tough game.”
Three potential game-changing plays from the Silver Bluff offense were called back by penalties, including two that would have gone for touchdowns. A 42-yard pass was negated by an illegal shift on the opening drive of the game.
The Bulldogs found the endzone with less than 10 seconds remaining in the first half but movement in the backfield once again wiped out the play, and Silver Bluff had to settle for Pedro Zambrano’s 29-yard field goal and a 10-0 halftime lead.
Shaquez Wright’s 75-yard catch and run for a touchdown late in the third quarter was also called back for holding.
“The boys weren’t ready to play tonight,” Wright said of his teammates. “We weren’t focused. We had to wake up.”
Wright sparked his team with 110 rushing yards on 21 carries, but it nearly wasn’t enough when Midland Valley completely mixed things up to start the second half, bringing in freshman quarterback Daniel Carr. The backup, who scored four touchdowns in a junior varsity game Thursday night, only played in the second half and threw for 143 yards. He completed three consecutive passes of 17 yards or more in an 80-yard scoring drive, including a scrambling-lengthened 29-yard touchdown pass to Kameron Brown for the Mustang’s only score early in the third quarter.
But Silver Bluff returned to its effective two-tight end set for a clock-killing drive in the fourth quarter that put the game out of reach. R.J. Stallings, one of four Silver Bluff ball carriers to top 40 rushing yards, scored from 13 yards out with 9:40 left to take a two-score lead.
Midland Valley’s final drive of the game was stopped at the goal line when Daniel Carr’s pass was intercepted by Tyler Fishalow with under a minute to play.
Daniel Carr, the first cousin of starting tailback Dre Carr, completed 8 of 17 passes. His favorite target, Brown, hauled in five receptions for 106 yards.
“We’re just trying to take what they gave us,” Midland Valley coach Rick Knight said of the new offensive approach in the second half. “There were some things that were available to us. Daniel did a good job reading some things.”
Silver Bluff managed just 22 yards through the air on one completed pass, but the ground game tallied 265 yards and two touchdowns on 52 carries.