Bull­dogs over­whelm Leop­ards to win fi­nal con­test

Westside Eagle-Observer - - SPORTS - MIKE ECKELS meck­els@nwadg.com

DE­CATUR — It was a way to end a high school foot­ball ca­reer for se­nior Cay­den Bing­ham, a fiveyear vet­eran of the Bull­dog foot­ball pro­gram, as he led De­catur to its sec­ond vic­tory of the 2018 sea­son.

Join­ing Bing­ham for their fi­nal game as De­catur Bull­dogs were vet­eran se­niors Jimmy Men­doza and Austin Hamil­ton. They were hon­ored dur­ing se­nior night ac­tiv­i­ties prior to the start of the De­catur Bull­dog-Ar­kan­sas School for the Deaf Leop­ards game Thurs­day at Bull­dog Sta­dium in De­catur.

It was in­ter­est­ing to watch the Leop­ards take the field for warm-ups prior to the con­test. Ev­ery mem­ber of the eight-man team, the coach, and most of the sup­port staff were par­tially or to­tally deaf. The team’s pri­mary means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion was sign lan­guage. But they also used vis­ual cues as well, watch­ing each other and the op­pos­ing team’s move­ments.

In ad­di­tion to signs and vis­ual cues, the Leop­ard play­ers have learned to use vi­bra­tions through the ground and air to key off each other. An ex­am­ple of this type of com­mu­ni­ca­tion oc­curred when the quar­ter­back, ready to re­ceive the ball from the cen­ter, stomps the ground a set num­ber of times let­ting his team mem­bers know the ball is about to be set in mo­tion.

The first few min­utes of the open­ing quar­ter started slowly as Bull­dog play­ers, coaches and of­fi­cials tried to ac­cli­mate to the Leop­ard style of foot­ball. That soon came to an end when quar­ter­back Cay­den Bing­ham elected to keep the ball and ran it 50 yards for the Bull­dogs’ first touch­down of the con­test. Bing­ham then handed off to Austin Hamil­ton, who crossed the goal line for De­catur’s first two-point con­ver­sion.

To­ward the end of the quar­ter, Jimmy Men­doza got his first touch­down of the night. Bing­ham’s two-point con­ver­sion was good, and the Bull­dogs ex­tended their lead to 16.

In the sec­ond quar­ter, Hamil­ton, re­ceiv­ing a hand­off from Bing­ham, ran for De­catur’s third touch­down — giv­ing all three se­niors one fi­nal touch­down of their high school ca­reer. Men­doza’s con­ver­sion at­tempt was good, and the Bull­dog lead ex­tended to 24.

Mid­way through the quar­ter ASD quar­ter­back B. Bun­nell crossed the goal line, giv­ing the Leop­ards their first touch­down. Two con­sec­u­tive hold­ing penal­ties on the Leop­ards pre­vented a con­ver­sion, and the Bull­dogs were up by 18.

On the next pos­ses­sion, Bull­dog run­ning back Roger Her­nan­dez took a hand­off from Bing­ham and ran the ball from the 45-yard line of De­catur to the 27-yard line of ASD. Her­nan­dez com­pleted the drive with a run up the mid­dle for an­other Bull­dog touch­down. He was in­jured on the play and went out of the game for the re­main­der of the half.

Javier Perez com­pleted the con­ver­sion for a 39-6 lead.

A 50-yard run by the Leop­ards late in the sec­ond quar­ter scored the only other touch­down of the first half for ASD. The con­ver­sion failed.

A forced fum­ble re­cov­ered by Seth Rich re­sulted in a 45-yard run into the end zone for an­other De­catur touch­down. Men­doza’s point af­ter was blocked by the Leop­ards. The fi­nal touch­down of the first half was scored by Men­doza, his sec­ond of the game. A Bing­ham con­ver­sion was good, and the half ended with the Bull­dogs well ahead of the Leop­ards, 47-12.

A pair of in­juries on the Leop­ard side forced the game to go to a six-man con­test. Still, ASD con­tin­ued to play hard and never quit through the re­main­der of the third quar­ter.

One fi­nal touch­down by Bing­ham late in the third quar­ter and a point af­ter by Men­doza made it a 6012 game.

A short dis­cus­sion at mid­field by the of­fi­cials and coach prior to the start of the fi­nal quar­ter re­sulted in the can­cel­la­tion of the re­main­der of the con­test, giv­ing the De­catur Bull­dogs their sec­ond win of the sea­son, 60-12, over the Ar­kan­sas School for the Deaf.

This was the first twowin sea­son for the Bull­dogs since 2015, three years ago.

Bing­ham had three touch­downs and two con­ver­sions for 22 points, while Men­doza had two touch­downs, a con­ver­sion and two point-af­ter kicks for 16. Hamil­ton fin­ished the con­test with a touch­down and a con­ver­sion. Other Bull­dog scor­ers in­cluded Her­nan­dez with six, Rich with six and Perez with two.

West­side Ea­gle Ob­server/MIKE ECKELS

Jimmy Men­doza (cen­ter) gets past Leop­ard K. Ash­more on his way to the end zone for his first touch­down of the game dur­ing the De­catur-Ar­kan­sas School for the Deaf foot­ball game at Bull­dog Sta­dium in De­catur Nov. 1. Men­doza had two touch­downs, one con­ver­sion and two points af­ter for the Bull­dogs.

West­side Ea­gle Ob­server/MIKE ECKELS

Bull­dog run­ning back Austin Hamil­ton (10) fights hard for more yards as he is at­tacked by three Leop­ard de­fend­ers dur­ing the first quar­ter of the De­caturArkansas School of the Deaf foot­ball game at Bull­dog Sta­dium in De­catur Nov. 1.

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