Bulldogs overwhelm Leopards to win final contest
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.
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.
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.