BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
BURLINGTON – On Friday night at Bracewell Stadium the Hounds ran into too much Taven Harris, too much DJ Pugh, and too much purple and gray.
The Burlington Grayhounds threw just two passes on the night, but ran at the Fort Madison Bloodhounds all night for 348 yards as the Hounds fell 31-0 in non-district high school football.
The Hounds pulled out an exotic to open the game when senior quarterback Lennon Barker threw laterally to junior running back Diego Lozano, who then found Parker Denning streaking down the right sideline. Denning hauled in the pass, and in turning to run got tangled up, and was dropped for a 21-yard gain.
Junior tailback Kaeli Maestro then found a gap for seven yards, but got nothing on the next carry. Barker hit Dom Frantz for a 4-yard gain and another Hound first down. After a short gain on 1st and 10, Barker missed the next three pass attempts including a 4th and 8 from the Grayhound 30 and the ball went over on downs to Burlington.
The Grayhounds and Head coach Zach Shay did just what they have done all year. Taven Harris and more Taven Harris. The 5’10” senior carried six times on the Grayhounds’ first possession including a 19-yard touchdown run, 11, 70 yard drive to open the scoring.
Harris would finish with 34 carries and 245 yards on the night.
Senior lineman Danen Settles said the Bloodhounds lost the battle at the line of scrimmage.
“We started out good, but we then got high and they were lower than us and drove us back,” he said “We couldn’t stop the run – and that was our goal to stop their run.”
FMHS would only gain 16 yards and one first down in their next set before a Bloodhound punt would pin the Grayhounds at their own 15. Burlington would mix up runs by Harris and quarterback DJ Pugh through the end of the first quarter and to start the second, but Fort Madison would get a stop at the Bloodhound 40 and force a punt.
The Bloodhounds looked to have something brewing on their first possession of the second quarter when Barker found Parker again for a 39-yard gain the first play of the possession. Mike Mosena took the next throw on 1st and 10 from Barker for 18 yards. A holding penalty would kill the momentum, however, as Fort Madison found themselves facing a 1st and 22. Maestro got a couple on a run up the middle, but then Barker would take a three-yard loss on a sack and then throw incomplete on 3rd and 23 forcing a timeout.
An illegal procedure flag made it 4th and 28. The punt snap went over Barker’s head but he picked it up and raced to his right getting off a pooch kick that pinned Burlington at its own 8. Harris would carry 10 times for 58 yards over the next 4:45 seconds and bulled in from the 1-yard line to put BHS up 14-0.
A short kick gave the Hounds the ball at their own 40, but three quick passes that hit the dirt gave the Grayhounds the ball with 1:03 left. Pugh, found senior Reece Wissinger behind the Fort Madison secondary and hooked up for a 73-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the set to send the Bloodhounds into the lockerroom 21-0.
FMHS got a four and out when Pugh dropped the snap in shotgun but recovered for a 6-yard loss, forcing a Grayhound punt that just barely got over midfield. From their own 46, Barker led the Bloodhounds down the field, completing four screen passes, two to senior Trey Kuntz. Maestro went for 14 yards on a couple carries but then coughed up the ball at about the five with the Grayhounds recovering.
Burlington went all the way down to the 8 on an eight play series and settled for a field goal to push the lead to 24-0. Following the kick to the Bloodhound 13, Barker missed on 1st and 10 and then completed three passes for about 14 yards giving the Hounds a first down, but the next series saw two incompletions, a sack, and a punt. Harris took six of the next seven carries and flew in from 13 yards out to set the score.
Head Coach Tony Shiffman, who was short for words after the loss, said the Bloodhounds have to find an identity going forward.
“I don’t know who we are. I don’t know what kind of team we are,” he said.
“We go two games shuttin’ em out, and then we haven’t scored a touchdown in two games and it doesn’t get any easier in district play. We gotta figure out what kind of team we are and how we’re going to respond to this.”
Shiffman, who’s Hounds play at 3A wouldn’t let Burlington’s 4A class size figure into the result.
“That didn’t have anything to do with it. There’s plenty of 2A and 3A schools that go out and beat bigger schools,” he said. “We got in a hole big and couldn’t dig our selves out of it. We didn’t perform to the level that I thought we could.
Maestro led the Hound with 38 yards on 12 carries. Barker was 15 of 28 for 161 yards and no interceptions. Denning led the Hounds in receiving with 94 yards on five catches. Mike Mosena and Dom Frantz combined for 7 receptions and 55 yards.
Lozano led the Hounds in tackles from his inside linebacker spot with 13.5 including three for losses.
Fort Madison 2-2 returns home next week where District 5 matchups begin with perennial power Solon who’s ranked 4th in state in class 3A at 4-0.