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Artesia tops Carlsbad at packed Bulldog Bowl, 42-24

By BRIENNE GREEN
Sports Editor

In what seems to be as big a tradition as the annual meeting itself, Friday night’s Eddy County War between Artesia and Carlsbad came down to a series of moments.

A completed pass here. A tackle there. A turnover, an extra point, a game-changing play in the clutch. The quarters of Battle No. 94 rolled on like acts in a play. When the drama was over, not one member of the standing-room-only audience at Bulldog Bowl could claim they’d experienced a dull moment. But only the Bulldogs could claim county bragging rights – for the sixth consecutive season.

“Last night, in my mind, lived up to what you would want from a Carlsbad-Artesia game, particularly from an Artesia viewpoint,” Bulldog head coach Cooper Henderson said Saturday. “Both sides played very hard and played with a lot of intensity.

“It was a good high-school football game. We’re sure proud of our young men, and I would think Carlsbad would be, too.”

What the first half lacked in scoring the third quarter made up for Friday. Both teams delivered a trio of touchdowns in the period, with the Class 5A Cavemen charging back from a 14-3 halftime deficit to a four-point gap with 16-and-a-half minutes of football left to play.

But with a leaping interception by Bulldog defensive end Eric Sanchez and a 23-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Josh Houghtaling to classmate Chance Allen, the ‘Dogs finally reclaimed their two-score lead with 43 seconds to go in the third. … For the rest of the story, subscribe in print and on the web.

Artesia tops Carlsbad at packed Bulldog Bowl, 42-24Artesia tops Carlsbad at packed Bulldog Bowl, 42-24

By BRIENNE GREEN
Sports Editor

In what seems to be as big a tradition as the annual meeting itself, Friday night’s Eddy County War between Artesia and Carlsbad came down to a series of moments.

A completed pass here. A tackle there. A turnover, an extra point, a game-changing play in the clutch. The quarters of Battle No. 94 rolled on like acts in a play. When the drama was over, not one member of the standing-room-only audience at Bulldog Bowl could claim they’d experienced a dull moment. But only the Bulldogs could claim county bragging rights – for the sixth consecutive season.

“Last night, in my mind, lived up to what you would want from a Carlsbad-Artesia game, particularly from an Artesia viewpoint,” Bulldog head coach Cooper Henderson said Saturday. “Both sides played very hard and played with a lot of intensity.

“It was a good high-school football game. We’re sure proud of our young men, and I would think Carlsbad would be, too.”

What the first half lacked in scoring the third quarter made up for Friday. Both teams delivered a trio of touchdowns in the period, with the Class 5A Cavemen charging back from a 14-3 halftime deficit to a four-point gap with 16-and-a-half minutes of football left to play.

But with a leaping interception by Bulldog defensive end Eric Sanchez and a 23-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Josh Houghtaling to classmate Chance Allen, the ‘Dogs finally reclaimed their two-score lead with 43 seconds to go in the third.

And when a big defensive stand from the Artesia 19-yard line with eight minutes remaining on the clock ultimately resulted in a missed field-goal attempt by the Cavemen, the boys in orange were able to put the finishing touches on a 42-24 win that bumps their 2010 record to the plus side, 3-2.

“We were real pleased with a lot of the fundamentals we saw last night,” said Henderson. “One of the things we talked about going into this game was consistency, and there were several times when we saw ourselves getting better with that in all phases of the game.”

That consistency in the first two quarters of play manifested primarily in the form of defense and special teams.

The Bulldogs were forced to punt an uncharacteristic four times in the first half, but the punt team pinned Carlsbad within their own 20 twice and – despite Artesia’s two other punts coming from deep in Bulldog territory – did not allow the Cavemen past midfield.

The Orange Crush D, meanwhile, held Carlsbad to a 22-yard field goal by Michael Parraz with 9:59 to go in the second quarter and forced a trio of key turnovers in the half.

Artesia’s first interception of the game came courtesy of Ryan Bledsoe, who snagged a Brandon Mendoza pass at the Bulldog 25-yard line in the first quarter. A second pick by junior safety Trevor Whitmire  in the second on first-and-10 from the Artesia 40 was returned 47 yards, and – following a subsequent Bulldog fumble at the Carlsbad 31 – sophomore tackle Daniel Salinas pounced on a Caveman cough-up to set up the ‘Dogs’ second touchdown of the half.