Easy six — Gleason fullback James Owen scored three touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ season-opening 42-7 win over Fulton City on Friday night. Photo by Sara Reid
After 24 minutes of play, the Fulton City Bulldogs could nearly taste the sweetness of revenge, but 24 minutes later Gleason had swiped the pie off the windowsill leaving the sweetness as a distant memory.
Having traveled to Fulton last year and dominated the Bluegrass Dawgs at home, 50-0, Gleason weathered several penalties and a slow start to lead 18-7 at the half. Coming to life in the second half, however, Gleason scored 36 unanswered points and rolled to a 42-7 win this past Friday night in Gleason.
GHS fullback James Owen opened the contest with an 18-yard carry. His next carry netted nine and he carried twice more for 10 yards. Quarterback Conner Verdell was pulled back eight yards on a sack, but Owen gained back four and David Spellings raced 30 yards around the left side for the game’s first touchdown. The score was negated, however, on a block in the back call and the Bulldogs (1-0) faced third-and-long. Dalton Teeter took a handoff six yards, but on fourth-and-long, Verdell’s pass bounced off Austin Perry in the end zone and the home team turned the ball over on downs.
The Blue and White (0-2) took over on the Fulton City 27 and Ronel Bransford went to work with 25 yards on two carries. Gleason’s Dalton Teeter caught Bransford for a one-yard gain and Fulton City drew a swarm of penalties resulting in a punt.
Verdell caught fire through the air, first with a 45-yard pass to Nick Poore and then with a 16-yard encore to the senior. Owen dusted off the drive with an 11-yard run and a one-yard punch into the end zone. Spellings was stopped on the conversion, but Gleason led 6-0 with 1:18 left in the opening quarter.
Fulton City’s Devon Jackson returned the kickoff to the Gleason 21 and with the ideal field position, Bransford took a 12-yard handoff into the end zone. Lerinzo Ruiz kicked the extra point and with 11:11 left in the second quarter, Fulton City took the lead, 7-6.
Taking over on their own 20, the Bulldogs moved forward five yards on a substitution infraction only to back up five on an illegal procedure call. A holding penalty backed them up even more and they faced first-and-20 on the 12. Verdell gained nine on a keeper and Blake Taylor picked up 11 on a sweep. Fulton City jumped offsides and Verdell again found success through the air with a 26-yard throw to Taylor and a 34-yard pass to Perry. Owen finished off the drive with a three-yard run and with a failed conversion attempt, Gleason took back the lead, 12-7, with 8:44 left before the half.
After a quick three-and-out by the visitors, Gleason pounded it out on short runs from Owen and Teeter. Owen rolled into the end zone from 13 yards out for his third TD of the night and the Dawgs took an 18-7 lead and momentum into the locker room.
Fulton City opened the third quarter with possession on its own 37. Bransford gained 16 yards and a first down on two carries. Again flagged with a penalty, Fulton City stalled on the Gleason 43. Jackson fumbled the ball back at the 36 and GHS sophomore Perry scooped it up and returned it for the score. Owen added the conversion and the home team led 26-7 with 9:33 left in the third.
Fulton City was forced to punt on its next series and Gleason picked up where it left off. After a holding call and a sack, Gleason faced third-and-long, but Verdell found Poore through the air for a 36-yard gain and kept the ball for a 22-yard touchdown run. Owen added the conversion and Gleason led 34-7 with 58 seconds remaining in the third.
The home squad’s final score came on a 22-yard pass play from Verdell to Poore and from there, the clock raced through to a dominating Gleason victory to open the season for the second straight year.
Numerous Dawgs put up big numbers including Owen who rushed for 122 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries. Verdell was 7-of-9 through the air for 180 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 32 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. Poore had five receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown and Perry had a 36-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
Gleason will host the West Carroll War Eagles (0-1) at 7 p.m. on Friday. Fulton City will travel to Murray.
Fulton City-Gleason, Stats
Fulton City 0 7 0 0 — 7
Gleason 6 12 16 8 — 42
GHS — James Owen 1-yard run, (conversion failed), 1:18.
FCHS — Ronel Bransford 12-yard run (Lerinzo Ruiz kick), 11:11.
GHS — Owen 3-yard run (conversion failed), 8:44.
GHS — Owen 13-yard run (conversion failed), 4:12.
GHS — Austin Perry 36-yard fumble return (Owen run), 9:33.
GHS — Conner Verdell 22-yard run (Owen run), 00:58.
GHS — Nick Poore 22-yard pass from Verdell (Poore from Verdell), 9:19.
First Downs 8 20
Rushes-yards 35-103 37-245
Passing yards 27 180
Comp-Att-Int 2-4-0 7-9-1
Punts 6-18.5 0-0
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 8-45 9-80
Rushing — Fulton City, Ronel Bransford 21-97, Devon Jackson 5-6, Justin Knight 2-5, William Pirtle 2-4, Mason Garland 5-(-9); Gleason, James Owen 17-122, Conner Verdell 7-32, Chase Ezell 3-42, Dalton Teeter 3-12, Blake Taylor 2-13, Will Clark 2-13, Anthony Vermillion 2-11, Tanner Trevathan 1-0.
Passing — Fulton City, Garland 2-4-0 — 27; Gleason, Verdell 7-9-1 — 180.
Receiving — Fulton City, Bubba Kirby 2-27; Gleason, Nick Poore 5-120, Austin Perry 1-34, Blake Taylor 1-26.
Records — Fulton City 0-2, Gleason 1-0.
Next Game — Gleason will host the West Carroll War Eagles with kickoff at 7 on Friday night, while Fulton City will visit Murray, Ky., with kickoff at 7:30 on Friday night.