Bulldogs defeat Kerens in Bi-District, set for Coleman

The Marlin Bulldogs defeated the Kerens Bobcats 36-7 to move on to the next round of the playoffs.

The Bulldogs traveled to Waco Midway High School on Thursday to take on the Kerens Bobcats in the Bi-District round of the playoffs. The Bulldogs battled wind, rain, and cold, and defeated Kerens 36-7. 

Marlin kicked off to start the game. The Bulldog defense asserted themselves early with an interception by Keyshaun Massington (13) on the first play of the game. The Marlin offense took advantage of that interception with a 15-yard run by Ja’marien Womack (3) and a 20-yard run by Mario Hopwood (8). The Bulldogs scored on a 10-yard touchdown run by Hopwood to take a 6-0 lead after a missed extra point. 

“Stealing the possession was huge,” Coach Ruben Torres said. “We anticipated possibly onside kicking to steal a possession. We felt like they were going to go deep early with a dry ball. I thought Keyshaun Massington did a great job playing it to get the pick, but it was huge. It was a huge momentum swing. Anytime you’re in the playoffs, turnovers are key and you’d like to play turnover free, but with that wind and wet balls, there’s going to be some slips. But it was a huge momentum swing to go and punch it in was a big deal for us.” 

Kerens tried to answer on offense with a 42-yard run. Marlin buckled down and forced a fourth and 7. Kerens went for the fourth down conversion but was unsuccessful. Marlin was unable to do much on offense and was forced to punt. Marlins punt was blocked and was recovered by Kerens and would have great field position. The Bobcats used that field position and scored on a 3-yard touchdown run to take the lead 7-6. Marlin came back out on offense and marched down the field. The first quarter ended with Marlin trailing 7-6.

The Bulldogs faced a fourth and 4 early in the second quarter. Marlin went for the fourth down conversion but came up empty. The Bulldog offense quickly returned to the field after a Kerens fumble that was recovered by Marlin. The Bulldog offense responded with a 5-yard touchdown run by Ja’marien Womack for a 14-7 lead following a two-point conversion on a run by Roderick Suiters (9). The Marlin defense returned to the field and played solidly, forcing a Kerens three and out. The Bulldog defense quickly returned to the field after an interception thrown by Suiters. Marlins defense held strong and forced a fourth and 10. Kerens went for the fourth down conversion but came up empty for a turnover on downs. Marlin returned on offense and stormed down the field. With time winding down, the Bulldogs scored on a 1-yard touchdown run by Ja’marien Womack on the last play of the first half for a 22-7 lead, which would be the score going into halftime. 

Marlin came out strong and shut out Kerens in the second half, outscoring the Bobcats 14-0 in the second half to win 36-7 and advance in the playoffs. The 14 second half points for Marlin came off of a 2-yard touchdown run by I’aire Kee and a 3-yard touchdown run by Hopwood. The Bulldog defense was an absolute nightmare for the Kerens offense. 

For the entire night along with allowing only seven points, they forced two fumbles, had an interception, allowed just 47 rushing yards, and -3 passing yards in the game. The three running backs (Ja’marien Womack, I’aire Kee, and Mario Hopwood) were a force that simply couldn’t be stopped. They combined for 291 rushing yards and a whopping five touchdowns. 

“They did a good job of stopping our counter game,” Torres said. “So, we had to go and really simplify things to our inside zone and outside zone. Upfront, them being patient, us getting into that heave package, and overwhelming them with our size, I think really helped. Our running backs did a good job of holding onto the ball, and finding the leads and finding those little pockets.” 

Up next for Marlin will be the Coleman Bluecats in the Area round. The game will be on Thursday, Nov. 16, at Memorial Stadium at Tarleton State University in Stephenville and kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

The Marlin Democrat

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