SAND HILLS — Bay County sports fans went to a spring football jamboree on Thursday night at Bozeman and a soccer game broke out.
Well, actually two of them, as the first two halves ended in nil-nil ties after 20 minutes. If anything, it underscored that nobody actually "wins" a half of football anyway.
But in this case, teams strained to try and reach the end zone and host Bozeman did so twice in the final two quarters while blanking North Bay Haven 14-0.
Bozeman 0, Rutherford 0
The Rams had two viable scoring opportunities thwarted by turnovers, and a holding penalty killed the Bucks’ lone venture across midfield.
Rutherford marched the opening possession from its 35 to first-and-goal at Bozeman’s 9 as the Rams continually gained yardage with pitches and sweeps around the left side following linemen Tye Davis and Austin Sheppard.
Rutherford reached third-and-goal from the 8 when a fumble in the backfield was recovered by Bozeman’s Brandon Vinta back at the 20.
That scuttled a 16-play drive where running back James Caldwell twice converted fourth-down runs and Chris Dickerson’s 16-yard gain on a sweep was the big play.
Bozeman was held without a first down in the first quarter and Rutherford again threatened. This time the Rams used a 51-yard connection between quarterback Reggie Tubbs and receiver Donovan Smith to move into scoring position.
Tubbs scrambled for a first down to the Bucks’ 11, but on first down Caleb Ward not only stymied a bubble screen but came up with an interception.
Bozeman responded when Dante Robinson lofted a halfback pass to Tyler Bates for 37 yards to Rutherford’s 39. Quarterback Blake Embrick then scrambled away from trouble and tossed a short pass that Jordan Rosalis advanced near the 30, but Bozeman was called for holding deep in the backfield and the opportunity was lost.
North Bay Haven 0, Rutherford 0
North Bay Haven not only fielded the most size in offensive linemen Joshua Stuckey, Vincent Weaver and Trey Eggert, the Buccaneers were able to establish the best tempo of the three schools which all ran versions of the spread offense.
Much of the reason for that might have been that NBH quarterback Ray Tynan has been in the program for four years and established himself as the starter last season.
Tynan completed 5 of 11 passes for 78 yards and also flashed some credible scrambling ability to extend plays and turn some losses into successful scrambles.
Like Rutherford in the opening half, however, the Bucs couldn’t convert in the red zone.
Tynan scrambled for 11 yards, then passed to Michael Panariello for 22 on the Bucs’ opening possession. They reached the Rutherford 21 before consecutive sacks ended the drive, Rutherford’s Cameron Knapp making the key stop on fourth down.
A 37-yard pass from Tynan to Zane Hamilton and 12-yard burst by Cam Gant got NBH to first-and-goal at the 7 in the second quarter. That series ended with an interception by Jaylen Bouie in the end zone.
"I kicked myself in the backside for not kicking a field goal down there," North Bay Haven coach Andy Siegal said. "I was trying to get us in the end zone and kind of forgot about field goals.
"But this wasn’t about winning as much as executing and trying to plug in guys and try and establish some depth."
Rutherford was held to 19 total yards in the half until Tynan was stopped on a scramble near midfield with 8.4 seconds left. Caldwell then broke loose on a sprint into the secondary that ended with him knocked out of bounds at the NBH 7.
"I thought we had time to kick a field goal," Rutherford coach Loren Tillman said after the half was ruled over on Caldwell’s run. "I don’t care, I want to win no matter what.
"I thought we moved the football, especially in the first half (against Bozeman) but shot ourselves in the foot."
Bozeman 14, North Bay Haven 0
Two factors dominated the first quarter of the final half. The most noticeable was a nuisance rain that started before the teams lined up.
After seemingly halting late in the first quarter, it returned to limit both offenses. North Bay Haven also was without Tynan for the second half, as he tweaked an ankle on his final play against Rutherford.
Bozeman finally ended the scoring drought when Embrick, who earlier had a 21-yard run into NBH territory, scored on a zone read from 8 yards.
Running back Jaidon Dorsey got loose on a 25-yard scoring run for the Bucks. Tommy Benjamin kicked both extra points.
Bozeman’s Jason Griffin was getting his baptism as a high school football head coach.
"I’m very pleased. Our kids played hard, played physical and went toe to toe with two (Class) 4A schools," Griffin said. "I thought it was a pretty good start here at Bozeman."
Siegal was experiencing his first competition at North Bay Haven after an extensive prep, collegiate and even professional football resume.
"We’re a young football team and I thought showed passion and a lot of heart," Siegal said. "All three teams played pretty good football tonight. I thought we came out and played physical football."