Bulldogs lose senior QB in opener
The McLouth Bulldogs could use several spoonfuls of sugar to make the medicine go down.
Friday's 54-8 loss to Troy in the season opener was a hard enough pill to swallow. On top of that, the Bulldogs will have a bad taste in their mouths that could last for weeks -- in the form of standout senior do-all Mark Stewart, who suffered a severe ankle sprain.
Stewart was deep in Trojan territory in the second quarter when he was tackled near the Troy sideline. Stewart stayed on the ground and had to be carried off the field by MHS coaches. He sat in a chair on the sideline, but later was taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
MHS coach Harry Hester said on Tuesday that Stewart didn't break the ankle. Hester will know more later in the week when Stewart gets re-examined.
Troy's offense steamrolled McLouth early in the game. THS, after forcing McLouth into a three-and-out situation on its first possession, put together a six-play, 54-yard drive that was capped by running back Caylor Luther's 31-yard touchdown run.
After McLouth almost crossed the 50-yard-line on its next possession, the Bulldogs punted again to the Trojans, who scored again on a six-play drive, this time on an 85-yard drive capped by Luther with a 41-yard scamper.
Two plays later, McLouth fumbled deep in its own territory and Troy, in two offensive plays, scored a third touchdown and held a 21-0 lead.
The dismal MHS start turned for the worst when, forced to punt deep inside its own territory, the Bulldogs gave up a safety after the snap sailed over Stewart's head and out the back of the end zone.
Troy tacked on another touchdown early in the second quarter and held a bullish 30-0. But McLouth showed a degree of resiliency on its next possession.
The Bulldogs, who had trouble fielding several of footballs on kickoff returns, had its first clean return via junior Jake Hullinger.
Hullinger continued to spark MHS when the wide receiver ran 18 yards on an end around. McLouth drove to the Troy 32 when an 8-yard loss pushed MHS back to the THS 40. But on third-and-9, Stewart completed a 40-yard touchdown pass to senior running back Ryan Smith. The two-point conversion was good and McLouth made the score 30-8.
On Troy's next possession, the Trojans opened up its passing game, but on a tipped ball, MHS sophomore defensive back Tyler Drinnon intercepted the ball.
On its ensuing possession, the Bulldogs again marched down the field. But a Stewart touchdown was called back.
McLouth tried to make its way back into the end zone, but Stewart's injury came before the Bulldogs could cut into the Trojans' lead further.
MHS junior Derrick Crouse came in at quarterback for Stewart, but the Trojan defense blitzed hard and buried Crouse for a big loss and erased McLouth's hope for another touchdown. Hester, though, was pleased with Crouse's play off the bench.
"Derrick stepped in and did a nice job," Hester said.
The Trojans added another four touchdowns in the second half and improved to 1-0, while McLouth dropped to 0-1.
Hester said the Bulldogs needed to cut down on penalties. A season opener usually has its share of more flags, but the MHS coach said it's an area that needs corrected.
"We've got to make some plays," Hester said.
As for the defense, an area Hester wanted to shore up after last season, he said he thought the unit had some success. However, the Bulldogs did have some issues when it came to stopping Luther and Greaser.
"It's hard to simulate that kind of speed in practice," Hester said.
Troy appeared to not miss a beat in its first step toward defending its Delaware Valley League title from a year ago. The Trojans went undefeated last season before losing to Washington in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs.
As for McLouth, the Bulldogs' losing streak increased to six games dating to the 2006 season. McLouth opened the season at 3-1, only to finish the campaign 3-6.
After the game, Hester said he had little to say to his team about the 46-point setback.
But, he also stressed that it was just one game.
"We'll make sure they understand that when we watch the film Monday," Hester said.
The Bulldogs hope Week 2's opponent provides an elixir to offset the season-opening setback.
MHS will face Doniphan West at 7 p.m. Friday at Stan Braksick Sports Complex. It will be homecoming for McLouth.