Doing their part to make sure that this year’s homecoming game would be one to remember, Dove Creek High School running backs Gage Bailey and Gauge Thompson each scored three touchdowns during their team’s impressive 51-8 win over Sangre de Cristo on Friday.
While the seniors’ heroics were key throughout an exciting night for home fans, both Bailey and Thompson credited offensive linemen Austin Beanland, Blaine Johnson, Hayden Gray and other substitute linemen for their success throughout the evening.
“Honestly, it was our line,” said Bailey, when asked about his big night. “Our line helps us, and we get our yards, our touchdowns and our points. We couldn’t do it without our great practices during the week. We’re becoming a heck of a team.”
“Up front, our line was opening holes for those guys to run in,” Dove Creek head coach Shane Baughman said. “I thought Gauge Thompson ran hard tonight, and he broke several tackles.”
After struggling to move the ball early in the contest, the Bulldogs offense began rolling midway through the first quarter when Bailey and Thompson strung together several long runs during a drive that ended when Bailey ran the ball off left tackle and scored from 2 yards out.
A 2-point conversation by Dove Creek on a pass from Chorbin Cressler to Thompson made the score 8-0 with 7:24 left in the opening quarter. The Bulldogs expanded their lead to 16-0 four minutes later when Bailey again raced into the end zone from 2 yards out.
The Bulldogs, who fell victim to slow starts during their first two games of the season, continued to reverse that trend when Thompson scored his team’s third touchdown of the first quarter on a 48-yard run that featured at least four broken tackles and an outstanding cutback.
“We’re loaded with confidence,” Bailey quipped. “We keep our heads in the game, and we have great practices every single week. We just be doing what we be doing, and we’re going to go far this year.”
Trailing 24-0 after 12 minutes of play and seemingly shocked by Dove Creek’s speed and physicality, Sangre de Cristo continued to struggle throughout a second quarter that was highlighted by two short touchdown runs by Thompson and 54-yard score by Bailey that came on an option play around the right side.
While the Bulldogs offense hummed, its defense also shone bright as Beanland consistently harassed Sangre de Cristo ball carriers in the backfield and Gray doled out a handful of powerful hits that seemingly took the fight out of his opponents.
“Gray sets the tone with physicality, and he’s a leader for us,” Baughman said. “He takes command of the huddle on defense and offense. It really helps us.”
Ahead 43-0 to start the second half, and with Colorado’s 40-point mercy rule in effect, Dove Creek played its second team during the majority of the final two quarters much to the chagrin of the team’s starters, who cheered every play.
Among the many impressive substitutes for Dove Creek was freshman running back Gage Buffington, who ran the ball with authority and powered the ball into the end zone from 10 yards out to put his team ahead 51-0 midway through the third quarter.
Sophomore Cole Taber also ran the ball well while providing a glimpse his team’s bright future, and although Dove Creek allowed Sangre de Cristo quarterback Leighton Curtis to score a late touchdown, Baughman praised his second team’s effort.
Now owners of a 3-0 record and likely to move up from its No. 8 ranking in the Colorado High School Activity Association’s 8-man poll, Dove Creek will begin preparing for an all-important road contest against Sanford High School on Oct. 30.
“We have an amazing bond. We’re a brotherhood, and we’ve been playing football together since we were 4,” Johnson said.
“We’re going to keep grinding and doing our work. We’re going to try to not have very many penalties (against Sanford) and we’re going to work as hard as we can,” he said.