Bulldogs find what works, run past Charlotte Latin
By Chris Stiles The Robesonian,2023-09-23
ST. PAULS — After experiencing some trial and error through the first half of the season, St. Pauls head football coach Mike Setzer says he’s felt like one of America’s greatest inventors.
“I really think all this season has been like Thomas Edison — we’re trying to figure out how things work,” Setzer said. “We keep seeing things that don’t work, and then we find things that do, so that’s what it’s going to be like. We’re just kind of making our notes and making sure to remember some of things that do work and go with that, and live on it.”
Even in dreary weather conditions from Tropical Storm Ophelia which worsened throughout the game, the lightbulb came on for the Bulldogs Friday in a 20-14 homecoming win over Charlotte Latin.
One of the things that has typically worked for St. Pauls (2-3) during Setzer’s tenure has been the run game. After that ground attack has been hit and miss through the first four games of this season, the Bulldogs found it Friday, rushing for 281 yards.
“Our identity has been a strong run game, so we had to make sure,” Setzer said. “It feels good to get what you’re known for; it feels good to get a strong run game going, and it’s just confidence. This helps Monday’s practice even better. We’ve been waiting and searching for a better run game.”
Yoshua McBryde ran for 150 yards on 19 carries, with a 75-yard touchdown run.
“I want to thank my O-linemen,” McBryde said. “Without them — they’re in the trenches fighting hard all game for me to do what I do. I appreciate the quarterback, and thanks to the coaches too; they help build me up so I can get prepared for the next game, game after game.”
Quarterback Theophilus Setzer ran for 77 yards on 11 attempts, in addition to his 30 passing yards on the night, and Tyler Parks rushed five times for 47 yards with a score.
“I’m very proud of (McBryde),” Mike Setzer said. “And I think we had some complementary runs from Tyler Parks and Quintell McNeill, and Theo (Setzer) too. That just pays dividends for us.”
Charlotte Latin (1-4) scored on its first drive with a 30-yard pass from Troy Logan to Gavin Provencher for a 7-0 lead. After two punts and a turnover in the first quarter, St. Pauls’ offense was sparked with a one-play drive — McBryde’s 75-yard scoring run, which tied the score at 7-7 with 10:47 left before halftime.
“The linebacker on the right side, the outside linebacker, he blitzed through the B-gap, and my fullback, Antonio Arnold hit him, and I just went through the A-gap,” McBryde said.
Omar Canuto kicked a 35-yard field goal to give the Bulldogs a 10-7 lead with 5:19 remaining in the half. A drive later, Tyler Parks converted a fourth-and-1 for the Bulldogs, then scored on a 25-yard dash on the next play to make it 17-7 with 1:37 on the clock. Charlotte Latin was driving before the end of the half when a pass was deflected multiple times, then intercepted by Jayden Barnhill, and the Bulldogs took their 10-point lead to the locker room.
After the first half was played in an overcast condition with mostly a light sprinkle, much of the second half was played in a driving sideways rain as the storm worsened throughout G.S. Kinlaw Stadium.
“A nasty game like this, I think it builds a lot of character,” Mike Setzer said. “You want to see your team go through adversity, because you don’t want to get to a big, big game and then this (weather) comes down and is a factor.”
The teams exchanged fumbles on consecutive plays early in the third quarter; after a Bulldogs punt, the Hawks scored on a 38-yard pass from Logan to Banks Cutter. A bad snap on the extra-point try led to an unsuccessful run in an attempt for the two-point conversion, and the Bulldogs led 17-13 with 7:13 to go in the third.
That score was the second by Charlotte Latin on a blown coverage by the Bulldogs secondary — but the bright spots for the Charlotte Latin offense were few and far between, with the Hawks held to 84 rushing yards and 202 yards of total offense, 68 of which came on those two plays.
“We’ve still got to cut down on some mistakes; there was some easy plays given to them,” Mike Setzer said. “Defense has really been a staple for us, so I’m super happy about (playing well). We still haven’t put a concerted game together.”
Two drives later, St. Pauls began at its own 9-yard line before a 15-play drive got as far as the Hawks’ 13 and ended in a 29-yard field goal by Canuto, extending the lead to 20-13 after taking several minutes off the clock, which now sat at 7:02 left in the game.
Charlotte Latin drove to around midfield before three straight incompletions resulted in a turnover on downs with three minutes left, and St. Pauls ran out the remaining minutes on the ensuing possession.
Logan was 11-for-20 passing for 118 yards for Charlotte Latin; Neil Salvage rushed for 85 yards on 20 attempts.
The game concluded the nonconference portion of the schedule for St. Pauls, who faces Red Springs in its Southeastern Athletic Conference opener next week.
On a two-game winning streak after an 0-3 start, the Bulldogs hope continue channeling Edison and use what’s worked for them in their last two games as they enter the most important stretch of the season.
“One thing about going in to sum it up is, like I said, Thomas Edison — now we’re going to look at our notes and talk them about, we’re in conference now, so it ain’t ‘fix this, fix that,’” Mike Setzer said. “It’s OK, here’s what’s done good for us so far, and we’ve got to go with our best foot forward on all sides of the ball and do what we feel like makes us best.”