By Travis Whitton
For The Herald Bulletin
LAPEL, Ind. — The Class A, No. 11 Lutheran Saints grounded the Lapel Bulldogs using 259 yards rushing to snag a come from behind Indiana Crossroads Conference 21-14 victory on the Bulldogs’ home turf.
Lutheran (5-2, 3-2 ICC) took the lead just minutes into the opening quarter when quarterback Jake Reid snuck the ball in from 1 yard out to make it 7-0.
The Bulldogs (2-5, 1-4 ICC) bounced back with just 24 seconds remaining in the same quarter when receiver Joe Hart grabbed a 4-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brady Cherry. The extra-point attempt sailed left, and the home team found itself trailing 7-6.
The Saints lulled Lapel into thinking every play was going to be a running play, and that’s when Reid snapped off an 83-yard touchdown strike to Esteban Navarrete early in the second quarter. This time the visitors missed the extra-point but still held a 13-6 advantage.
A wild set of plays ensued at the end of the half that gave the Bulldogs a 14-13 lead going into the intermission.
They went 62 yards in five plays ending with a needle threading 10-yard touchdown bullet from Cherry to his favorite target, Hart. A botched snap on the extra-point attempt looked to be doomed, but Caleb Mills tossed the ball back to Palmer Pickett, and he pushed his way in for the 2-point conversion.
“Joe (Hart) has one speed, it’s full-speed,” said Bulldogs coach Tim Miller. “We try to rest him on defense when we can. He’s going to make plays. If I have fourth-and-2, you throw it to him. Next week on fourth-and-2, I’m going right back to Joe. I mean, he’s going to make a play for you. Any time he touches the ball, it might go for six.”
Lapel’s lead lasted until the 7:05 mark of the third quarter when Reid again used his feet as he rumbled in for a 5-yard touchdown for the final score of the game.
Miller said the Bulldogs left plays on the field that cost them the game.
“We made some great plays, and there were some plays we didn’t make -- that’s the way it bounces sometimes,” he said. “We never got back in our rhythm, that’s how I’d describe it. We put ourselves in too many second-and-long situations where now you’re trying to get back bigger chunks of yardage. Just got to make a few more plays here and there.”
Miller said despite the three-game skid Lapel is currently on, it needs to keep after each practice and game so it is prepared when the postseason rolls around.
“This is not fun,” Miller told his team after the heartbreaking loss. “I mean, yes, we should’ve won that game. We had a chance to win that game, and we’ve got to find a way come sectionals to win those games.”
Lutheran running back Dalton Nidey led all rushers with 128 yards on 21 carries, while Cody Moncel had 89 on 14 totes. Reid had 9 yards rushing, but two of his eight carries went for scores.
The Bulldogs were led by the arm of Cherry on 21-of-39 passing for 250 yards and two scores to go along with three interceptions. Bailey Partington led the receiving corps with 97 yards on seven catches, and Hart had 66 yards on six grabs and both scores.