The Cooper Bulldogs started strong against Collinsville on Friday, but were unable to sustain their momentum and ultimately lost to the Collinsville Pirates in a 40-33 battle.
The team roared out of the gate, building a 20-6 lead going into halftime, thanks to some strong defense and offensive efficiency.
“We executed well and definitely were able to jump on the early,” head coach Rod Castorena said.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they began to be plagued by uncharacteristic mistakes and miscues.
“We started hot but we couldn’t sustain the momentum,” Castorena said. “We started making mistakes and didn’t take care of the football down the stretch. … In the second half it turned into a dogfight.”
After leading by two scores in the second quarter, Collinsville was able to flip the script and take a two-score lead of its own.
“I’m proud of the way our guys never gave up and always kept with it,” Castorena said. “They went up by two scores there in the second half and (quarterback Jaxson McGuire) came right back and scored a touchdown of his own to get us right back in it.”
The defense was able to have moments of brilliance, such as the three turnovers they forced, though they ultimately didn’t have enough such moments to get the necessary stops to win the game.
Offensively, the team didn’t go down without a fight and had a response for just about every score by the Pirates.
“We played well offensively, too,” the head coach said. “This is a tough loss to swallow. “
McGuire finished the game with 128 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground to go with 42 passing yards and another touchdown through the air.
Jayden Limbaugh ran for 73 yards and a touchdown, and Colin Ingram found the end zone twice, with receiving and rushing touchdowns. Ingram finished with 16 rushing yards and 34 receiving yards. Chase Morales had 56 rushing yards and Markel Smith had nine rushing yards.
Defensively, Erick Zapata led the team with 11 tackles, one of which was a sack. Weathers had five tackles and a fumble recovery. Jacob Jones and Morales finished with seven tackles. McGuire and Landon Houchins finished with six total tackles. Clay Sepulveda added three tackles and a fumble recovery as well.
The Bulldogs will next be in action on Friday against Detroit for a matchup of Red River valley opponents.
“I’m proud of how our guys battled and fought, and we’re going to work to clean things up in coming week,” Castorena said.