After a 7-0 start, the 2012 season has taken a troubling turn for the Venus Bulldogs.
On the heels of a 43-point loss to Stephenville, the Bulldogs (7-2, 1-2) were absolutely demolished by visiting Glen Rose (8-1, 2-1) on Friday, 57-7. The No. 14 Tigers limited Venus to 92 yards of offense and just four first downs. The Tigers led 50-7 through three quarters and then coaches pulled most of the starters.
“I thought our defense was as dominant this week as our offense was last week,” said coach Tommy Dunn. “They just smothered (Venus), considering (the Bulldogs) had four total first downs. It was an outstanding job.”
Despite not scoring for more than 12-straight minutes in the middle of the first half, Glen Rose still went to the locker room up 36-0.
“We started out good and then we hit a wall for about three series, then we got on track again,” said Dunn. “It was good for us to see a defense like that, and they put some pressure on Colton (Bretton) at times. It was also good for us to put up points the way we did.”
Each team turned the ball over once and committed seven penalties. When Venus wasn’t turning the ball over on downs, it punted nine times.
In his three quarters of play, Colton Bretton completed 15 of 26 passes for 313 yards and five touchdowns. Top receiver Justin Weatherley had a career night with six grabs for 221 yards and three touchdowns, with 189 yards coming in the first half.
“I had no idea I had over 200 yards,” Weatherley said. “I feel great about it, but I’m ready to go break that (personal best) now. Me and Colton actually didn’t seem to be connecting like we usually do, but Coach Dunn set us straight and we got it going – good things happened.”
Dunn knows Weatherley is a huge problem for any defense.
“Justin is a big target and he’s tough to defend for smaller defensive backs, plus Colton has a lot of confidence in him,” the coach said. “Justin has proved that he can get open; he’s the go-to guy.”
The other prime receiver was Cody Burtscher (5-56, 2 TD), but the running back was also able to add 66 rushing yards and two more touchdowns on 14 carries.
“They had two guys on Cody most of the night, which opened up someone else when he wasn’t making a play,” Dunn said.
Burtscher actually wasn’t the top rusher, as that honor went to Jensen Nash (11-81). Josh Beasley (2-40, TD) also made an impact. Despite a 23-yard loss on a recovered fumble, the Tigers averaged 5.5 yards per carry to reach 165 yards.
“Josh is compact and you saw his quickness there (in the fourth quarter),” Dunn said. “I’m so happy for him, because he deserves it. Nash’s motion helps keep the defense at bay, especially with his speed. When he was in the game, it was a plus for us.”
On his second carry, Beasley busted loose for a 25-yard touchdown run.
“I just saw my blockers open the hole; I stuck right in there and went to the house with it,” Beasley said. “It feels great to score in a district game. Cody helps me out and shows me what being a good running back is about.”
After leading 14-0 less than four minutes into the game and then not scoring for more than 12 game minutes, the Tigers hit Venus for three touchdowns in 3:59 late in the opening half.
“Our scoring did come in spurts in that first half,” Dunn said. “The way (Venus was) playing us, it was going to be a big play for one side or the other. We ended up with the majority of them.”
After just 12 rushing yards on seven carries in the first half, Glen Rose ran 23 times in the second half with five double-digit carries.
“We didn’t run the ball much (in the first half) because they were stacking the box,” Dunn said. “They were manned up (with our receivers) on the outside and we can’t let teams do that, so we threw the ball.”
The Tiger defense was downright stifling, considering Venus could only muster 2.3 yards per carry on the way to 73 rushing yards. The top Bulldog rusher was Eddie Morgan with 38 yards on 14 carries. Quarterback Heath Dugan completed just four of 19 passes for 19 yards and an interception.
“We did a good job of staying at home because their offense isn’t very tricky,” said Jed Bridges, who was among the top Tiger defenders with two tackles for loss. “They didn’t really break any big plays, so everyone did what they should and weren’t selfish.”
Burtscher intercepted a pass on Venus’ first possession.
“They struggle passing, and when they throw it up we’ve got people who can go get it,” Dunn said.
Senovio Delagarza came away with a sack, while Shane Strealy, Carter Brandt, Ryan Lamb and Sam Strother each had a tackle for loss.
“When Shane gets in, he plays hard and he was able to do some things,” Dunn said.
Bridges credited Strother’s play.
“Sam does a great job of coming in when we need him,” Bridges said. “He’s learned a lot and does what coach asks.”
On the game’s third offensive play, safety Burtscher intercepted a deep pass and returned it 12 yards to the Venus 21.
“That gave us great momentum to get rolling,” Bridges said.
On Glen Rose’s first offensive play, Bretton found Weatherley short and he sped down the sideline to hit paydirt (7-0, Martin De Los Santos kick).
After a Venus three-and-out, the Tigers took over at their own 47. Following a 12-yard Jared Thames reception, Weatherley went deep for a 39-yard gain down to the Bulldog 2. Two plays later, Burtscher bulled his way across the goal line from a yard out (14-0, De Los Santos kick).
Although both offenses were silent for more than a full quarter afterwards, the Glen Rose defense didn’t go anywhere with Strealy and Brandt making consecutive tackles for loss.
Early in the second, Bridges made a tackle for loss and Delagarza delivered a sack two plays later. After a punt, the Tiger offense woke up again and resumed dominating.
A Burtscher run got the chains moving and on the next play Weatherley made a 26-yard diving catch. Three plays later, Bretton hit Burtscher over the middle for a 12-yard score (22-0, Bretton conversion run).
On the heels of a Venus three-and-out, Bretton went deep down the middle on first down and there was no stopping Weatherley on a 71-yard touchdown (29-0, De Los Santos kick).
“They were playing me man-to-man and we wanted to punish them for it,” Weatherley said. “We hit that post and I was off to the races.”
Venus was absolutely reeling, as it turned the ball over on downs when Austin Gibson broke up a fourth-down pass. On second down, Bretton got the ball to Weatherley and, after shedding an early tackle, he powered his way across the stripe late for a 32-yard score with 3:51 to play in the half (36-0, De Los Santos kick).
“I produce for the team, because this is family to me,” Weatherley said. “I give 110 percent every time I go out there because I want to impress them, the community and everyone else.”
A Lamb tackle for loss late in the half helped Venus’ struggles continue.
The Tigers wasted no time leaning on the run game after halftime, as they began with a 10-play drive that included nine runs. The big gain was a 24-yard Nash run, and the touchdown came when Burtscher broke open for a catch in the end zone from 14 yards out (43-0, De Los Santos kick).
A Bridges tackle for loss helped force a punt on Venus’ first possession in the half.
“I wasn’t expecting to blitz because we had to defend against the reverse, but it ended up working out and I made the tackle,” Bridges said.
Dunn likes what he’s seen from the junior.
“Jed has stepped up,” the coach said. “He’s a big presence in the middle.”
Nash busted off a 32-yard run on the first Tiger play to follow. Facing fourth-and-one at the Venus 16, Bretton and Burtscher weren’t able to complete a handoff and the ball went to the turf. It was scooped up by Isaac Banks and returned 85 yards for the lone Venus touchdown (43-7, Colton Echols kick).
That only seemed to anger the Tigers, as they immediately struck back. On first down, Thames made a juggling catch with a Bulldog draped all over him for a 13-yard gain.
“That was a great catch; I was surprised because he had pretty tight coverage on him, but Jared kept his eyes on it,” Dunn said.
Weatherley’s only catch of the half was a significant one for 32 yards, and then Burtscher accelerated down the middle of the field for a 27-yard score (50-7, De Los Santos kick).
After Strother made his tackle for loss early in the quarter and Venus turned the ball over on downs, Gibson stepped in at quarterback the rest of the way and didn’t attempt a pass.
“Austin has played quarterback before; I guess you could say he’s our third quarterback behind Hayden (Holder),” Dunn said.
The highlight of the quarter definitely came late on Glen Rose’s last possession. On second down, Beasley broke a 15-yard run on his first carry.
“I could feel that another good run was coming because the blocking was really good,” Beasley said.
Sure enough, Beasley showed good burst and power to take his next carry 25 yards to the end zone (57-7, De Los Santos kick).
The Tigers will conclude the regular season on Friday when Hillsboro comes to town at 7:30 p.m. Hillsboro is coming off a 63-13 home loss to Stephenville.
“We want to play another good game and stay healthy next week,” Dunn said. “It looks like we’ll face Brownwood in the first round. We’re both different teams than last (year’s playoff meeting). We’re ready to make a deep run in the playoffs; it doesn’t matter who the opponent is.”
Weatherley likes his team’s chances going forward.
“We feel great about our team and all we can think about is football,” he said. “We come together to play as a team and we just want to keep taking steps forward.”