Bulldogs cream the Cougars

L. Scott Bennett Photo/Gila Herald: C.J. Scrivner breaks through the defense for a nice gain. Scrivner had two rushing TD’s and a fumble recovery touchdown return as Safford routed Show Low, 45-8.

Safford dominates in every aspect of the game

By L. Scott Bennett

SAFFORD – With excellent play on both sides of the ball and a huge boost from special teams, the Safford Bulldogs easily handled the Show Low Cougars on Friday night, 45–8. 

The contest matched the visiting Cougars with a single loss on the year against the Bulldogs with but a single victory nearing the midpoint of the season.  Both teams started slowly as neither team was able to find the endzone in the first quarter. 

L. Scott Bennett Photo/Gila Herald: Safford running back C.J. Scrivner (23) follows a wall of blockers.

After a sustained drive stretching into the second period of play, Safford struck first when with 10:29 to play in the half when junior running back C.J. Scrivner took it in from the 6. After the first of what would be many PAT’s from senior Justin Torrio, the Bulldogs had a 7-0 lead. 

Both teams again bogged down in the second quarter, however sophomore Fernando Gonzales changed the entire tone of the game with 10 seconds to play in the half. After a Safford punt was fielded by Show Low, Gonzales leveled the Cougar kick return man with an NFL quality hit, forcing a fumble. Safford fell on the ball and quickly set up for a 38-yard Torrio field goal as the first half came to an end. After the successful kick, the Bulldogs took a 10–0 lead, and all the momentum into the locker room.    

L. Scott Bennett Photo/Gila Herald: Safford kicker Justin Torrio lines up for a 38-yard field goal try just before halftime. The kick was good and Safford took a 10-0 lead into the break.

The third quarter began with Torrio pouching a kick high in the air that junior Jared Garcia was able to get under. Catching the ball, the Bulldogs recovered the onside kick and started the half with the ball.  Safford marched right down the field, concluding the drive with a 10-yard TD run from junior Eduardo Ogaz. 

Show Low answered right back, scoring its only points of the night on its first possession of the half.  After working their way down the field, senior Cougar RB Cal Fawcett took it in from the 10, keeping Show Low in the game at 17-8 with 5:02 left in the third. 

From there it was all Safford. Scrivner hit the endzone again with a 3-yard TD run late in the third quarter, making the score 24-8. After the ensuing kickoff, Safford was right back in the endzone when senior Samuel Tobias picked off the Cougar QB and took it to the house. After a successful PAT, it was 31-8. 

Not to be outdone by Tobias, Scrivner got involved on the defensive side of the ball as well.  On the next Cougar possession after the pick 6, the Safford defense jarred the ball loose from the Show Low QB, and Scrivner was there. Picking up the ball at the 36, Scrivner galloped to paydirt with the recovered fumble for his third touchdown of the night.

L. Scott Bennett Photo/Gila Herald: Safford quarterback Mason Duros looks for an open receiver.

The Bulldog offense just kept on rolling. With just over 6 minutes to play, starting their drive from the 50, Safford was quickly in business again.  Senior signal-caller Mason Duros lead his team down the field, capping the drive with a 25-yard Eduardo Ogaz touchdown run.  With the score and the Torrio PAT, the Bulldogs had secured their second win of the season and a 45-8 victory.

After the game, Safford Head Coach Eric Hjalmarson explained that he was proud of his team and his coaches.  Addressing the defense specifically, Hjalmarson was pleased that they were able to get the ball back for the offense and give them so many chances. 

Hjalmarson elaborated that his boys were fired up and ready for a win. 

“After losing a close one to Snowflake, which we should have won, and then losing to Thatcher . . . the kids were ready for a win and went out and got it,” Hjalmarson said. 

Show Low (1-1 conference, 3-2 overall) will enjoy a week off before traveling to Winslow on Oct. 4 to take on the other Bulldogs (4-1 conference, 4-1 overall).  Safford (2-1 conference, 2-2 overall) will host the Florence Gophers (1-3 conference, 1-3 overall) on Friday, Sept. 27, starting at 7 p.m.