LAPEL — It was a firetruck parade four years in the making. The Lapel Bulldogs football team earned the right after claiming the Class 2A Sectional 38 championship versus Heritage Christian 21-20 on Friday, Nov. 4, on the Bulldog field.
The 2018 title was a 42-41 win against Shenandoah when running back Tyler Dollar was a freshman.
The Eagles came into Friday’s meeting ranked 10th in Class 2A, but the measure meant little to the Bulldogs who were looking to avenge a 42-38 loss earlier in the season.
“The first game was a high-scoring shootout. This was a defensive battle,” coach Tim Miller said. “We won up front. Our line, I thought, was what paved the way. Our line and Dollar.”
Dollar scored all three Bulldog touchdowns on a 251-yard rushing night. Dollar’s longest was a 73-yard breakaway run for a score to open the second half. His first TD of the night was a 57-yard run in the second quarter. Dollar’s final time to the end zone came at 7:46 in the fourth quarter.
Lapel’s defense forced a sack and two interceptions and was key in keeping the Eagles in their own territory for much of the game.
“Our receivers were even blocking downfield. The kids wanted to win it, and they did it,” Miller said.
The two teams played to a scoreless first quarter, but early in the second quarter Heritage Christian’s Jalen Bond put the Eagles on the board, but just two minutes later was Dollar’s run to make the score 7-7. The Bulldogs were unable to convert on an interception by Landon Brown, and the teams went into the locker room at halftime with a 7-7 tie.
After Dollar’s second score of the night, the Eagles and Bond made it a 14-14 tie with a little more than a minute remaining in the third quarter. Dollar’s final trip to the end zone at 7:46 in the game put Lapel up 21-14.
After a long possession, Bond scored on a run making it 21-20 with a minute left in the contest. Instead of a PAT and tie game, the Eagles opted for the two-point conversion. Eagle quarterback Kyle Antoine rolled out and threw to the end zone, where Bulldog Rylie Hudson was waiting to pick off the pass and guarantee Lapel the sectional championship.
At 7-5 overall, the Bulldogs battled through an up-and-down season, but Miller never lost faith in his team.
“I did believe we’d be here,” Miller said. “This is a group of kids I believe in wholeheartedly. Didn’t think there’d be that many losses getting here, but we did it.”
Freshman quarterback Devin Craig who started most of the season had confidence in his team for the win.
“We put a lot of work in for this game and the whole season,” he said.
While receiver Nick Witte had just one reception in the game, he’s been the leading Bulldog receiver all season.
“It feels amazing,” Witte said. “We worked so hard in the weight room and in every practice. To finally be here, it’s amazing.”
Witte said he believed their preparation for this game made all the difference.
It’s onto regional on Friday, when Lapel will face Linton-Stockton, the No. 1 team in Class 2A. The Miners are 12-0 after defeating the Sullivan Golden Arrows 33-24 in their sectional championship.
Lapel will face Hunter Gennicks who does double duty as the Miners’ quarterback with more than 1,200 yards passing and who leads the team in rushing with more than 1,500 yards this season. The Miners have a balanced team of receivers in Braden Walters, Logan Webb and Paul Oliver.