Bridgeport falls short against Graham

By Austin Jackson | Published Friday, October 19, 2018.
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After a big defensive stand at the end of the second quarter, Bridgeport had Graham right where they wanted them, as quarterback Jadon Maddux went back to work.

Maddux led a seven-minute, 64-yard drive that kept the Steers’ high-powered offense on the sideline, eventually finding receiver Nolan Hernandez on an eight-yard out in the end zone that gave the Bulls a 17-14 lead.

The methodical drive didn’t steal the wind from Graham’s sails for long.
After a lengthy return, Graham went back to workhorse Chase Gilmore — a 6-foot-tall 200-pound running back — again and again.

Messenger photo by Kelly Basting.

Gilmore churned through tackles for 18 yards, then 12 yards, delivering body blow after body blow through the heart of the Bridgeport defense. The Steers went 40 yards in four plays, all on the ground as Gilmore rumbled in for his third touchdown of the game, as Graham took back the lead.

Despite chances, the body blows kept coming in a measuring stick game as Bridgeport fell 35-17 to Graham.

Graham — a team coming off a region finals appearance in the Class 4A Division II playoffs last year — had to work for every inch.

“I loved our kids’ effort and fight,” Bridgeport coach Shannon Wilson said. “They did a really good job. They’re a good football team and I believe we’re a good football team. We weren’t able to make some plays and they were.

“This is a good stepping stone for us. We played a quality opponent and I think we got better tonight.”

Maddux rushed for 163 yards and threw for two touchdowns and 70 yards, completing 7 of 15 attempts. He connected with Drew Carstens on a 14-yard fade in the first quarter, as the rangy tight end rose over double coverage to come down with the touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone.

Messenger photo by Kelly Basting.

But the Graham defense managed to bottle up Maddux in the second half, limiting him to 53 yards and forcing an interception late in the fourth.

Bridgeport was still within striking distance in the fourth quarter, down 28-17. But on third and long with three minutes left, Graham quarterback Hunter Lanham connected with Caleb Guinn on 49-yard touchdown pass.

Lanham finished with 226 yards, completing 13 of 22 passes.

Gilmore rushed for 230 yards and four touchdowns. At one point, he drug three Bulls with him as he churned for a 47-yard rush after the Bulls pinned Graham at their own 6 in the third.

Considering Graham’s multitude of weapons, Wilson said defending Gilmore and the Steers’ offense presented a big challenge for his defense.

“They’re definitely a lot of facets to what they’re doing on offense,” Wilson said. “[Gilmore] is a quality running back and a good player. Give him credit. He made a lot of good runs. They’re a good team and I thought our kids played extremely hard.”

Bridgeport dropped to 5-2 and 1-1 in District 3-4A Division II.

After the team’s effort, Wilson said there will be plenty to build from.

“There was a lot of good things we did and things we can improve on, but I felt like this was a good contest,” Wilson said. “Hopefully we got some building blocks. We’re going to build on what’s good and fix what’s not.”

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