As the final seconds of the first half ticked off Friday night, the Paoli Pugs were clinging to a slim 7-6 lead.

The Pug offense had a dismal 125 yards in total offense for the first half and if it wasn’t for two consecutive penalties by Cement for having too many players on the field, the Bulldogs might have sent the Pugs into the half time locker room trailing by a touchdown.

“We missed a lot of opportunities in the first half,” said Pug head coach Justin Hannah. “We lost too many fumbles and misfired on some wide open touchdown passes.”

“We challenged our team to start making those plays and they responded in the second half to that challenge. I’m very proud of them,” he added.

The Pugs indeed responded in a big way, turning a one-point half time lead to a 47-12 rout of the Bulldogs in the second half.

The Pug defense came out strong during the opening minutes of the game. Cement took the opening kick off and on the third play of their first drive turned the ball over when Bulldog quarterback Micah Briscoe sent a wobbling pass right into the arms of Paoli’s Colby Kile.

Kile returned the ball to the Pug 45 and three plays later Jacob Bailey swept to his left and found nothing but open real estate on a 42-yard touchdown run.

The point after kick was good and the Pugs took an early 7-0 lead with 9:13 left in the first quarter.

Cement was forced to punt on their ensuing drive and after a good punt return the Pugs found themselves in solid field position at their own 45.

Pug running back Jason Smith hit the line on the first play of the Pugs second drive of the game and took the ball 15 yards to the Bulldog 42.

Bailey then moved the ball deeper into Bulldog territory with a 9-yard run of his own. However, on the very next play the Pugs dropped the ball, giving the Bulldogs new life at their own 35.

The Bulldogs moved the ball 15-yards on six plays to mid-field at the 50-yard line. Two plays later Briscoe hit tight end Tyler Pelzer on a 50-yard touchdown pass to give the Bulldogs their first TD on the night.

The Dogs failed to convert on a two-point play after the touchdown and trailed 7-6.

Both offenses sputtered after that by either turning the ball over on downs or, in Cement’s case, fumbling the ball away to their opponent.

The Bulldogs fumbled the ball twice on consecutive drives and after the second fumble the Pugs had the ball at the Dogs’ 40-yard line with 8:45 left in the half.

Bailey pushed the pigskin one yard deeper on the first play of the drive and then Pug quarterback Jesse Arthur scampered for 26-yards on a quarterback keeper that took the ball to the Bulldog 13.

Bailey got the call on the next play and made it to the Bulldog 9-yard line when a Bulldog defender stripped the ball from his arms and came up with the fumble, dashing any Pug hope of a second touchdown.

That’s when Cement showed they came to play the Pugs tough.

“We told our boys before the game that Cement has nothing to lose. They came into the game winless and they have come to play us hard. They proved it on that last drive of the first half,” Hannah said.

The Bulldogs began pounding the ball right at the Pugs, starting on their own 9-yard line.

Pelzer and fellow Bulldog running back Robert Brookshire started chewing up yardage play after play, taking the Dogs to their own 35-yard line in seven plays.

On the eighth play of the drive, Brookshire lost a yard, putting the Dogs in a 2nd-and-11 hole. That’s when Briscoe stepped back in the pocket and hit Trevor Chaney for 26-yards.

Three running plays later Briscoe hit Chaney again for 10, taking the ball to the Pug 16 with 1:03 left in the game.

But the Bulldogs were their own worst enemy on the next two plays as the Dogs were flagged for having too many players on the field, forcing themselves into a 2nd-and-19 at the Pug 25.

Fortunately for the Pugs the two consecutive penalties pressured the Bulldogs to try to score with only six seconds left in the half. A Briscoe pass was no good and a reverse play was stopped cold by the Pug defense just as the last second of the first half ticked off the clock.

The Pugs took the second half kick off and immediately responded to Hannah’s challenge to start making plays.

Less than three minutes later, Arthur hit Junior Valencia for a 61-yard touchdown pass to widen the one point half time lead to seven. The point after attempt was no good and the Pugs led 13-6.

The Pug defense also arose to the challenge and made key stops on the Bulldogs to virtually shut down Cement’s offense in the third quarter.

Late in the third the Pugs again mounted a scoring drive, capped off by an 11-yard run by Arthur into the end zone. Arthur then hit Junior Valencia in the end zone for a two-point conversion, giving the Pugs a 21-6 lead.

In the fourth quarter the Pugs forced a turnover on downs when the Bulldogs failed to convert on a fourth-and-two play.

A few plays later Bailey took the ball in from 19-yards out, making the score 27-6 after the Pugs’ two point conversion failed.

On the Bulldogs next series, Briscoe lofted a high pass midway into the drive and hit Valencia instead. Valencia spun around and ran down the sideline for the Pugs next score of the game. The point after kick was good and the Pugs were definitely in cruise control, leading 34-6.

The Pug defense again responded to the challenge on Cement’s next offensive series when Kile intercepted another Bulldog pass.

After the turnover, Bailey broke open for a 45-yard touchdown run that was called back due to a holding call on the Pugs.

It didn’t matter as Jordan Bailey proved he’s just as good of a runner as his brother, Jacob, by busting open two huge runs. The second one was almost a TD but he tripped in the open field and fell at the Bulldog 4-yard line.

Coach Hannah rewarded him for his work by calling his number again and this time he crossed the goal line from four-yards out. The PAT was off and the Pugs now led 40-6 with 6:08 left in the half.

Cement was able to get on the board later in the fourth when the Pugs, pinned deep in their own territory, fumbled the ball on their own 1-yard line. One play later Cement was over the goal line and trailed 40-12 after their two point conversion failed.

With 2:52 left in the game, all the Pugs had to do was run out the clock and they would have a very convincing win.

But Pug running back Jason Smith had other ideas when on the third play of the Pugs’ next drive he took the ball into the end zone to give the Pugs a final score of 47-12.

The Pugs ended the game with 440 yards of total offense, 350 of which were due to the Pugs’ ground attack.

“The fact that 315 of our 440 yards in total offense came in the second half shows our kids rose to the challenge we gave them at half time. On both sides of the ball we proved that we can overcome adversity and I’m very proud of them for that,” Hannah said.

The Pugs will end the regular season next week at home against Grandfiled.

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