Odessa's run ended by John Burroughs
By Matt Gerstner PrepsKC staff writer
With 6:39 left in the game, Odessa scored.
It didn’t matter much. John Burroughs had controlled the game to that point, and the score made it 30-6. But it showed the pride and determination that had fueled the Bulldogs journey to the Class 3 Show-Me Bowl.
Running back Kobe Hardin racked up 127 yards on 31 carries and Ty Wagner threw the lone Odessa touchdown to Josiah Bennett in the loss to the Bombers Saturday at the Edward Jones Dome.
“My hat is off to John Burroughs and [head coach] John Merritt and his staff. They did an outstanding job,” Odessa head coach Mark Thomas said. “We’ve overcome a lot of obstacles this year, even today. Today when we needed it the most maybe we succumbed a little bit. We made our efforts to fight through it, but it was just too much.”
John Burroughs high-powered offense racked up 376 yards, including 255 on the ground from running back Tyler Bain who added three touchdowns.
“To be able to get this far is a credit to the players, the coaching staff, the parents and the community. I think my wife said, ‘It takes a village to raise a Bulldog.’ We felt like we raised some young men to hopefully become better men. When it’s all said and done, that’s what we’re really here for.”
Burroughs wasted little time getting their offense going, taking their opening drive 60 yards and knocking through a 36-yard field goal after an Odessa punt. The Bulldogs went three-and-out on their next drive before Bain scored his first touchdown with a 13-yard run to give the Bombers a 10-0 lead.
Odessa looked to answer driving to the Burroughs 34, but Tom Bolstad picked off Wagner to end the bid. The Bulldogs forced the three-and-out to get the ball back, but a fumbled exchange gave the ball right back to Burroughs at the Odessa 20. The defense, however, held Burroughs out of the endzone, forcing the field goal.
“We just had to stick together and play as one,” linebacker Austin Wilson said. “We couldn’t fall apart because big plays and bad things happen and hurts us. It put a lot of belief in us and let us think we could still win it.”
Odessa again drove into Burroughs territory, but the drive stalled at the 33.
“It just seemed like whenever we were able to get something going, there would be a breakdown in assignment, a penalty, a poorly executed play, or a combination of things. But I think John Burroughs probably had as much to do with it as anything,”
Bain made the Bulldogs pay on the next drive, breaking a tackle in the backfield and going 54 yards for the score and a 20-0 lead at halftime.
“I thought we were prepared for [the Bomber offense] and had a really good game plan for it. We struggled defensively a bit. Some of the things that they did well defensively, we did not; getting off blocks, missing some tackles,” Thomas said. “I thought we did a good job limiting their downfield passing game. I was happy with that. We knew their running game was going to be a concern going in, and at times we did take it away from them but not consistently enough.”
The Odessa offense got no help from the Bombers either, starting just once beyond their 20 yard line (own 32).
“It happened to us earlier in the season, and I thought we’d be fine,” Wagner said of the starting field position. “I thought we’d be able to drive the ball down the field. We’d get down there and get a third and one and wouldn’t get it. The momentum slowed down, and every time it happened it just happened more and more. We just could never pick it up.”
Burroughs added a 37-yard field goal in the third quarter and a 59-yard Bain touchdown before Wagner hit Wilson for strikes of 48 and 30 yards before tossing the touchdown to Bennett late in the game as the Bombers picked up their 13th title in their fourth attempt in five years.
Despite the loss, seniors Wagner and Wilson remained true to the Odessa community and their teammates.
“It was amazing. The journey was amazing. This team is one big family. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life,” Wilson said.
The Bulldog quarterback echoed his fellow senior.
“The preparation is something I’ll never forget,” Wagner said. “We started right after basketball in January of last year until now. We started at six in the morning playing until seven at night. It’s been one of the best experiences of my life. It’s more than a team, it’s a family. I’ll cherish every moment of it.”
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