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Bulldogs end losing streak

| Randy Dickson
Crestview’s football team traveled to Milton on Friday to take on the Panthers looking for its first win since beating Gulf Breeze on Sept. 1. Mission accomplished. A slow start was no sign of things to come as the Bulldogs exploded for 42 second half points to beat the Panthers 49-22.
Patrick Rodgers is off to the races on a 30-yard touchdown run for the Bulldogs, the first of his five TDs in the game.

Call it a coincidence or poetic justice, the 49 points Crestview scored is equal to the number of days it had been since that Sept. 1 win over the Dolphins.

“I’m happy for the players,” Bulldog coach Thomas Grant said. “We have faced a very tough schedule with a very young team. I can’t thank them enough for continuing to trust the process.

“This is a good win for the for this young team.  And I was thanking the seniors for continuing to stay the path with us.”

Things didn’t start out well for Crestview (2-6) when the Panthers took an early 9-0 lead.

Milton running back Malik Cobb capped the first Panther possession of the night with a 28-yard touchdown run with 7:16 left in the first quarter.

Milton (2-6) picked up a safety later in the first quarter after pinning the Bulldogs deep in their own territory on a punt.

The Panther led 9-0 at the end of the first quarter, but things would slowly begin to turn in Crestview’s favor.

The only points of the second quarter belonged to Crestview when Bulldog quarterback Turtle Nocher scored from two yards out with 8:36 left in the half. The Nocher touchdown capped a 59-yard drive that included a 29-yard pass from Nocher to Braylon Phillips.

Crestview forced the Panthers to punt on Milton’s first possession of the second half. Starting its own 19-yard line, Crestview went 81-yards on five plays to score.

The drive was aided by a personal foul penalty against Milton. Patrick Rodgers completed the quick possession with a 30-yard touchdown run to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the game at 14-9 with 9:06 left in the third quarter.

Rodgers went on to score four more touchdowns in the second half to lead the Crestview charge.

Milton’s ensuing possession started at the Bulldog 49 after Crestview was guilty of an illegal touch on an attempted onside kick.

A Tate Williams to Kaiden Hall pass covered 41 yards and three plays later Williams scored on a quarterback sneak. The 2-point conversion attempt failed and Milton led 15-14 with 8:05 remaining in the third.

The Bulldogs needed just four plays to go 65 yards and retake the lead they wouldn’t surrender the rest of the game.

Rodgers was held without a gain on first down. Nocher then ran for 23 yards giving Crestview a first down at the Milton 42.

An incomplete pass by Nocher was followed by a 42-yard touchdown pass to Rodgers.

Crestview forced another quick Milton punt and took over at the Bulldog 28-yard line with 4:49 left in the third quarter. Fourteen seconds later Crestview led 29-15 following a 72-yard touchdown run by freshman Manuel Robinson and a 2-point conversion by Nocher.

The Bulldogs needed just 12 seconds off the game clock to score their next touchdown.

Maddox Reeves intercepted a Williams pass and returned it to the Milton 5-yard line. Rodgers needed one play to get the ball in for the score. Ethan Meyers added the extra point capping a 29-point third quarter for Crestview and pushing the Bulldog lead to 36-15.

“I was reading the quarterback’s eyes, and I thought, ‘I can get there,’” Reeves said of the interception. “I was just able to rally to the ball and make the play.”

Williams teamed up with Bryson Brown for a 41-yard touchdown pass with 2:49 left in the third quarter. The Brown touchdown was Milton’s last score of the game.

Less than 90 seconds into the fourth quarter Rodgers scored his fourth touchdown on a 2-yard run to cap a 75-yard drive that started with 2:42 left in the third period.

Everything that had gone wrong for the Bulldogs during the five-game losing streak suddenly went right.

Sophomore defensive back Rueben Martinez intercepted a Williams pass on Milton’s first play from scrimmage in the fourth quarter to give the Bulldogs the ball at their own 36.

Eight minutes and 13 plays later Rodgers capped his big night with a 2-yard touchdown to close out the scoring.

Rodgers finished the game with 165 yards in total offense. He gained 108 yards on the ground on 19 carries and added 57 yards in receptions on three catches.

Nocher was 9-of-14 passing for 138 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

The Bulldogs piled up 454 yards in offense with 316 yards coming on the ground.

Grant praised the offensive line for the work it did in opening holes and protecting Nocher.

“I’ve been critical of the offensive line,” he said. “But hats off to the offensive line. They played a great game.”

Robinson’s long run helped him break the 100-yard barrier on just 10 carries.

Phillips didn’t score, but he led the Bulldogs with three catches for 68 yards.

Milton finished the game with 213 yards in total offense.

Cobb had 79 yards on 13 carries, but negative plays on sacks netted the Panthers just 65 yards on the ground on 28 attempts.

Williams was 6-of-9 passing for 110 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions.

Brown was Milton’s leading receiver with 71 yards on five catches.

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