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Dove Creek dominates Hayden in home opener

Gage Buffington breaks free down the sideline for a Dove Creek first down. The Bulldogs beat Hayden 50-0.Sam Green/Special to The Journal
Bulldogs bounce back from first loss in style

For Bulldogs head coach Jason Fury, Dove Creek’s home opener served as an opportunity to “reset.”

The turbocharged Bulldogs took the message to heart, firing on all cylinders in front of their home crowd at the Soper Sports Complex to cruise past Hayden 50-0.

After watching their 15-game winning streak snapped in their loss against Melrose, New Mexico, the previous week, Fury needed little motivation to get the Bulldogs fired up to correct their miscues and get back to the high-octane football that fans in Dolores County had become accustomed to witnessing.

Dove Creek (3-1) raced out to a five-touchdown lead at halftime, with senior Taber Dejane finding pay dirt three times in the comprehensive victory. The defense, meanwhile, stymied the visiting Tigers all evening, with senior Mike Coffey leading a defensive line effort that gave Hayden (2-1) junior quarterback Ethan Silva fits.

Taber Dejane takes off for a Dove Creek touchdown Friday night as the Bulldogs beat Hayden 50-0.Sam Green/Special to The Journal
With Nic Aragon leading the way to block, Colton Fury heads for the end zone as the Bulldogs beat Hayden 50-0.Sam Green/Special to The Journal
Cody Alexander celebrates with Taber Jane after he caught a pass in the end zone for Dove Creek.Sam Green/Special to The Journal

Alongside junior Sheldon Gardner and senior Gage Buffington, Coffey and the Bulldogs pushed the Tigers backward on each of their opening five possessions, with several “meet you at the quarterback” sacks shared by the dynamic defensive front.

“Our defensive ends were shutting down the sidelines,” said Coffey of the dominant defensive effort, “and so when they tried to run up the middle, the nose guards were able to plug up the holes. We were working like a well-oiled machine.”

Gardner and Coffey combined for a handful of emphatic tackles for loss of Tigers in the backfield, while the Bulldog secondary limited Hayden to fewer than five pass completions on the night.

When Dove Creek had possession, they wasted little time to move the ball downfield, following behind junior center Liam Hassell to spring the various Bulldog ball carriers for big gains. Dejane broke free from 44 yards on the first D.C. possession to open the scoring to cap a 70-yard drive.

Less than three minutes later, after another Hayden three-and-out, senior quarterback Colten Fury laced a pass into the end zone to classmate Cody Alexander for a 20-yard score, and the rout was on.

“We’ve solved some of the big problems we had from the first few weeks of the season,” added Coffey of the offensive showcase, “and now we’re able to fine tune the next things we need to work on.”

Dove Creek added two more touchdowns from Dejane in the second quarter, including a highlight-reel screen from 47 yards where the Bulldog slashed across the field behind blockers before outracing the Hayden secondary to the goal line.

“When Taber (Dejane) cuts back, he’s able to get defenders on their heels,” said Fury of his two primary running backs, “and he and Gage offer different styles of running – they play off each other well.”

Buffington scored to push the lead to 30-0 late in the second quarter, before the ‘Dogs added one more touchdown heading into the intermission on a 10-yard run from Dejane.

Fury punched in a rushing TD to move the game to the mercy-rule running clock, before sophomore Josh Kibel broke free for a score in the waning moments for the icing on the cake.

Sophomore Nic Aragon enjoyed a field day from his linebacker spot, helping Dove Creek contain the edges on the defensive side of the ball to preserve the shutout.

“The defense really stepped up tonight,” included Fury, “our kids were really stepping forward and making plays – we made a couple of changes from last week – and I’m really excited how they came out and played.”

The Bulldogs utilized their team speed to string out plays around the end, which allowed plenty of yellow helmets to fly to ball on each snap. “We’ve preached 5-5-9, which is getting five people within five yards of the ball, 90% of the time – and I thought our kids did really well with that tonight,” commended Fury.

A busy week awaits the Bulldogs, as Homecoming Week will pit Dove Creek against their border rivals Monticello for a Friday night battle back on their home turf. Kickoff is schedule for 7 p.m. from the Soper Sports Complex on Sept. 22.