ST. PAULS — A stiff Bulldogs defense and miscues by the Knights allowed St. Pauls to run up a 30-7 halftime lead on Friday, and when both defenses hurled shutouts over the final 24 minutes, the Bulldogs put the 23-point margin into the win column.
The loss drops West Bladen to 2-2 and the wins moves St. Pauls to 2-2 — both teams have a bye week ahead before the conference schedules starts Sept. 23.
The Knights were held to just 63 yards rushing and 21 yards passing for the game, but fumbles and bad snaps cost West Bladen 43 yards on the night — giving them a cumulative yardage of just 41 yards for the game.
The miscues began with the opening kickoff when West Bladen fumbled the pooch kick and the Bulldogs took over at the Knights’ 45. After a St.Pauls penalty, two runs took the ball to the West Bladen 44 just ahead of a joint sack by Javeon Bronson and Trent West that stopped the drive.
But a 48-yard punt backed the Knights up to their 2, where they went three and out — punting to the West Bladen 32.
St. Pauls made quick work of the short field. After a sack by Zion Barrett, the Bulldogs marched 38 yards in five plays, finishing with a 14-yard touchdown run at 7:52 of the first quarter. The fake extra point and two-point try was no good, but St.Pauls was up, 6-0.
West Bladen took advantage of two Bulldogs penalties to start its next possession at the St. Pauls 36. James Moore ran 14 yards and B.J. Drake scampered 22 yards for the touchdown at the 6:48 mark. Scott Bowen booted the PAT and West Bladen took a 7-6 lead.
It was all down hill from there.
St. Pauls responded with a touchdown just 49 seconds later and the two-point conversion gave the Bulldogs a 14-7 lead.
After West Bladen went three and out, St. Pauls took over on its own 30 and quickly chewed up the 70 yards, scoring on a 4-yard pass. The point after was good and West now trailed 21-7 with 2:12 left in the quarter.
The Knights fumbled the kickoff again and St. Pauls recovered at the West Bladen 31. On the third play, Jimmy Williams stepped in front of a St. Pauls pass and returned it 15 yards to the West Bladen 29. But the Knights went nowhere as the second quarter started.
The Bulldogs took over on their own 39 and marched to the West Bladen 14, where a 31-yard field goal was good and gave St. Pauls a 24-7 lead with 5:43 left in the half.
After another fizzled West Bladen drive and punt, the Bulldogs drove 77 yards in just four plays — the last play a 53-yard touchdown pass — and though the PAT was missed, St. Pauls held a 30-7 lead with 43 seconds left in the half.
“We’re just not executing and they saw that we couldn’t stop the option,” West Bladen coach Todd Pait said.
Things looked brighter in the second half for West Bladen — at least on the defensive side of the ball. The Knights held St. Pauls out of the end zone the rest of the game, including a goal-line stand late in the game. In addition, West pressured the St. Pauls quarterback and Bronson picked off the errant pass mid-way through the third quarter to give West Bladen the ball at the St. Pauls 5.
But the offense could only go backwards and gave the ball back to the Bulldogs at their own 15. West Bladen’s defense bent, but never broke the rest of the way.
“A better second half defensively, but the offense is out of sync,” Pait said. “There’s nowhere to go but up — we’re just not a very good team right now.”
Drake led West Bladen on the ground with 44 yards and the touchdown on five carries. Through the air, Wes Pidgeon was 2-of-11 for 21 yards and an interception.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.