Despite 4thQ rally, Dawgs fall at West

School’s football team coming up on the short end of an overtime decision along Sutherland Avenue.

The Bulldogs rallied from a 14-point deficit to force overtime, but dropped a 34-31 heartbreaker to the Knoxville West Rebels Saturday night in the season opener for both schools at KWHS’s Bill Wilson Field.

The game ended when West High quarterback Baker Dance threw a 13-yard scoring strike to freshman Elijah Rogers after Bearden scored first in the extra frame. Connor Cross gave the Bulldogs their only lead of the contest when he kicked a 25-yard field goal to make the score 31-28.

But BHS had to mount a late comeback just to get there.

Bearden (0-1) found itself facing a 28-14 deficit with seven minutes remaining in regulation before scoring two touchdowns.

Senior quarterback Collin Ironside hurled a 31-yard touchdown pass to fellow senior Hayden Candela to make it 28-20 with 6 minutes, 12 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Cross missed the extra point.

But the Bulldogs would pull even when Ironside connected with Kenneth Parker-Smith from 15 yards out to make it 28-26. Ironside knotted the game when he rumbled into the end zone, carrying most of his offensive line with him, with 1:34 left in regulation.

“Collin is a dog. He’s a real dog for us,” Bearden head coach Morgan Shinlever said. “He did everything that we ask -ed him to do.

“He basically carried a pile into the end zone to give us a chance and he tied the game.”

Ironside completed 25-of-44 passes for 315 yards and four touchdowns.

“This was a tough game,” he said. “I didn’t get off to a great start. I was rushing my throws early.

“But when we came out in the second half, we were all a little better. We dug ourselves a big hole and we got out of it and we were driving with a chance to win on the last series of the fourth quarter. We just kept fighting and we’re always going to fight,” Ironside added.

The Bulldogs did struggle early, as they committed several costly penalties and had a punt blocked.

“We had so many new faces on the field,” Shinlever said. “And we had some guys have to come in and fill in in roles that they weren’t expecting.

“I think we were a little nervous, and West is a good team with great athletes and they always give you a good hard game,” he added.

Strong West start

The first chapters of this epic gridiron saga belonged to West.

The Rebels took a 7-0 lead on Dance’s 64-yard scoring strike to Omarian Wright with 9:50 left in the first quarter.

Ironside answered with a 24-yard scoring pass to Candela, who had 11 receptions for 133 yards and three touchdowns.

West then went up 20-7 as Dance threw a touchdown pass to Grant Tierney and running back John Cupp scored on an 8-yard scamper on a direct snap.

Ironside hooked up with Candela for another TD pass to make it 20-14 just before halftime.

“In a game like this, you can only talk about how proud you are of your kids,” Shinlever said.

“We had a fourth quarter where things didn’t go our way, but we fought hard against a good team — and Bearden throws so much at you defensively,” West head coach Lamar Brown said.