Dawgs defense prevails

In a game that managed just 316 yards of total offense by both teams, it was Odessa making just enough plays Friday night to pick up its third victory of the season. The Bulldogs got two big plays, which was enough to carry them to a 9-0 win over visiting Richmond in the Class 3, District 14 opener.
Both teams combined for 12 first downs, with Odessa picking up 145 rushing yards and 48 more through the air. Richmond moved the chains five times while picking up 111 yards on the ground, and 12 more yards passing as the Spartans dropped to 4-4, with Odessa improving to 3-5.
“It’s disappointing,” Spartan Coach Rob Bowers said. “We just didn’t do what we needed to do and we didn’t play well enough to win. We made some good plays, but it seemed like every time we had something good happen, we’d shoot ourselves in the foot.”
Odessa had two plays for 105 of its total yardage.
After a scoreless first half, Odessa cashed in its first big play of the night early in the third period. Bulldog running back T.C. Shippy turned a second and 11 from the Odessa 11 into a 66-yard run deep into Spartan territory to set up the first scoring threat of the game. However, the Richmond defense held and forced the Bulldogs to attempt a field goal.
Tommy Hotmer then split the uprights for a 22-yard field goal and a 3-0 Odessa lead.
Richmond appeared ready to answer on its next possession as the Spartans quickly moved downfield for its first scoring threat of the night. Gabe Vandiver got the Spartans to within the shadows of the goal line when he broke loose for a 49-yard run to the Bulldog 7. The Odessa defense then stiffened and held Richmond to a fourth-and-goal call from the 3. The Spartans then called timeout to discuss the play.
The Spartans ended the night with five penalties, but none was bigger than the call following a Richmond timeout for having too many on the field. Instead of fourth and goal from the 3, the Spartans faced fourth and 8. Trent Dial, who entered the game hitting 18 of 20 conversion kicks, was called to attempt his first field goal of the season, but the Bulldogs got good penetration and blocked the kick and Richmond came up empty.
“When you get down there, you’ve got to get it in the end zone,” Bowers said. “There’s no excuse for that. Coming out of the timeout, I called the formation and made a substitution and didn’t get one of the kids out. I’ll take the responsibility for that. Obviously, I didn’t make it clear enough who was coming in and who was coming out. That was a killer.”
The Spartan defense continued to keep the score at 3-0 until Odessa applied the final nail with 3:31 left in the game. The Bulldogs used a little trickery to visit the end zone with a double-reverse pass that ended up with the quarterback, Hotmer, hauling in a pass from Brandon Kleoppel covering 39 yards.
Bowers said his defense performed well other than the two big Odessa plays.
“Every big play they had, we misaligned,” he said. “You have to line up correctly. When we lined up correctly, we played great defense, but when we didn’t, they got big plays. The reverse pass to the quarterback they just got behind us, other than that the only big plays were from our misalignments.”
The Spartan offense converted just two of 10 third-down situations. Bowers said his team kept putting itself in too many long-yardage situations.
“That is not our forte,” he said. “We struggle with pass protection when people know we’re going to pass. We need to pass when we want to and not when we have to.”
Richmond’s lone home district contest is Friday against former MRVC foe Boonville, while Odessa will host Moberly. Boonville defeated Moberly, 28-19.
PHOTO: Richmond defensive end Ty Tweedie gives chase to Odessa running back Seth Martinko (34) in Friday night’s 9-0 Bulldog victory over the Spartans. (Photo by Russ Green/The Daily News)

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