Edwin Castro of Lynn English reads the play. (Libby O’Neill)
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MEDFORD – The Lynn English Bulldogs (4-4) defeated the Medford Mustangs (2-6) Thursday night at Hormel Stadium, 8-0.
An explosive defensive line and productive running game made the difference, and Lynn’s England side who started the season 0-4 came back to 0.500.
Medford sent the opening kickoff out of bounds and the Bulldogs got to work. The highlights of the Englishman’s opening drive were a 21-yard catch by Janathan Andrades who threw a defender onto the turf, and quarterback Edwin Castro took it himself to convert on the fourth try.
A penalty set the Bulldogs back, and on another fourth down they failed to convert. In defence, England’s Mack Peters crossed the line to tackle for a loss, and the dynamic duo of Mitchell Purter and Jarvin Simon made a widescreen save to put the Mustangs back.
The first quarter ended scoreless.
Simon rushed for an English touchdown with 8:59 left in the second quarter – brushing aside a Mustang and entering the end zone standing. Castro snuck down the middle of the defensive line to add two more and the Bulldogs took an 8-0 lead.
After a Mustang player struggled to get the ensuing kick off, the Bulldogs swarmed him – allowing Medford to start possession from their own 15-yard line.
After Mustang’s first two tries, Peters silenced the home crowd with a monstrous sack, knocking Medford back three yards. The third and long, Bulldogs’ Julius Mondesir smashed his way through the blue jerseys and crushed a grounded Mustang – followed by a cheering celebration as his efforts forced a punt from Medford.
On English’s next practice, the Bulldogs reached the midfield logo after Castro took a direct snap and pushed his blockers forward for extra yardage. Three missed plays and an English late game penalty later, the Bulldogs returned the favor with a punt.
Simon’s touchdown and Castro’s two-point conversion were the only points of the half. The English led at the break, 8-0. Castro’s efficient rungame and English making timely saves made the difference.
On Mustang’s first drive in the second half, Medford quarterback Jack Lombardo bombed the ball down the right sideline. The Bulldogs’ Lionel Rivera was there to get his hands on the pass – forcing a punt from Medford.
Castro tossed the ball to England tight end Mitchell Purter who – in double cover – leapt down with the ball for a 33-yard gain. Purter timed the catch perfectly, using his size and strength to carry the catch.
The Bulldogs’ rungame took them to the Medford 22-yard line but English returned it with Castro’s bomb to the right end zone, intercepted by Stevens Exateur who extended, rolled and protected the ball for Medford. Two big wins in the air for the Mustangs and, just like that, Medford entered English territory.
While pinned down, England’s Orlando Quintana grabbed a Mustang jersey, continued forward and made a decisive tackle for a two-yard loss. The Bulldog’s defense remained solid and Medford turned it over after an incompleteness.
The third quarter ended with the English still clinging to their cushion 8-0.
Castro made a nice pocket play to start the fourth, looking left before pivoting and running to the right for a five-yard gain. He followed it with a first descent of seven meters.
Game after game, the Englishman ran as far as he could to cut time. After three English penalties, the Bulldogs found themselves facing a long third. Castro threw a bomb at Purter which landed just a yard in front of the first scorer. In the next game, the English picked up the first down.
“They’ve learned to fend for themselves,” said England head coach Anthony LaFratta. “Our guys kept fighting, and that’s the biggest difference.”
From the start, Castro effectively scanned the field before making the decision to run left, right or down the middle. His outburst with five minutes left in the fourth quarter took the Bulldogs into the red zone.
The Englishman was pushed back and although it remained empty on his drive, possession took almost nine minutes of the fourth quarter. Medford needed eight points with 3:18 remaining.
A 34-yard completion got the Mustangs off to a flying start in their comeback attempt, but another explosive sack from Mondesir stopped the momentum. Lombardo’s next two passes were crushed and a swarm of Bulldogs sacked him on fourth down to put the game on ice.
The Englishman took a knee and time ran out on the host Mustangs. After the Englishman went winless for four weeks, the Bulldogs flipped the switch and now sit 4-4.
“I think it’s just confidence right now. Our guys feel we can play with teams. In the beginning, when the season started, we weren’t in that frame of mind,” LaFratta said.