While the Trojans’ offense stumbled out of the blocks in their contest at St. Stephens, the team’s defense kept the visitors in the game the first two quarters.
“We played good all night long defensively. We were just killing ourselves when we kept giving it to them in the red zone,” said Bandys coach Randy Lowman. “We had two interceptions, a fumble and a blocked punt.”
In spite of those turnovers deep in their own territory, Bandys’ defense allowed St. Stephens to score just 13 points. Meanwhile, in the first-half Trojan penalties erased 14 points from the scoreboard — including a 98-yard kick-off return and a 7-yard touchdown pass.
The second half was a different story, as the Bandys defense kept up a solid performance and the Trojans’ offense amassed 19 unanswered points to collect a 26-13 win over the Indians.
“We were so soft to start the game. Our offensive lineman were getting shoved back in (Bandys quarterback David Barrow’s) face, and on the two interceptions, both got tipped,” Lowman said. “They got better as the game went on and that is what we have got to do week to week.”
Thanks to great field position provided by a Trojan fumble recovered by St. Stephens’ Franklin Jefferies and interceptions collected by Dale Huffman and Dillion Spencer, the Indians built an early 13-0 lead. St. Stephens’ Cody Solesbee booted two 25-yard field goals, and quarterback Dylan Beiland connected with Jeff Ellis for a 10 -yard touchdown pass — all in the first quarter.
“In the first half, the intensity was there. We had a great intensity level,” said Indians head coach Fred Whalen.
Bandys bounced back when they capped a four-play, 77-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run by Dominique Young.
The Trojans threatened again before half-time. A seven-yard touchdown pass was negated by a holding penalty, and St. Stephens held on to keep Bandys out of the end zone as time expired in the first half.
“We got a stop right there as the first half ended, and I thought that would give us some momentum in the second half,” Whalen said. “Then we just came out flat. We never seemed to pick it up in the second half.”
In fact, the Indians went three and out on their opening possession of the third quarter. Bandys Jesse Goodwin then returned the ensuing punt 27 yards and got extra help from a 15-yard face masking penalty.
Good field position set up a 15-yard pass from Barrow to Jackson Gilliam and gave Bandys the first lead of the night.
“David has played good for us,” Lowman said. “He is doing what we need him to do.”
In fact, to open the second half, Barrow went 8-10 and a touchdown completion.
“He has gotten some playing time, and tonight he showed he can do it,” said Bandys Dylan King. “We expect a lot out of him from here on.”
On the Indians next possession Bandys Ryan Ripper intercepted a pass from Beiland. That set up Gilliam’s second touchdown, this time on a nine-yard run. After a blocked PAT, Bandys took a 20-13 lead and momentum was on the Trojans side of the field.
Gilliams scored once more in the game - on another nine-yard run in the fourth quarter — and Goodwin collected an interception of his own to help seal the game.
“I think our line blocked great, and the holes kept coming open as we set up the trap,” Gilliam said. “We had a play that was working for us, and it worked all night.”
Bandys improves to 2-0 and hosts its home opener against Mooresville next week. The Indians fall to 0-2 and travels to Bunker Hill (2-0) next week.