By Richard Sharp
Lake Area Sports
QUITMAN-For the third consecutive season, the Quitman Bulldogs began their football campaign as victors, shutting out the visiting Two Rivers Gators in dominating 59-0 fashion, their second win over the Gators in as many years after visiting Ola in 2019 and leaving with a 35-6 triumph. Last week, Quitman hoped to carry the momentum into a road game against a tough Melbourne program that has seen much success in recent seasons but came up short by a 34-6 score.
Quitman 59, Two Rivers 0
The host dominated from the opening kickoff all the way to the final horn in this one, leading 14-0, 46-0 and 52-0 at the quarter breaks while controlling the total offensive game by a 367-75 count.
Logan Love hauled in the first touchdown completion of the year on a short completion from senior Holden Martin, who would score later in the first session of play on a quarterback keep, opening the door for a huge 32-0 second quarter that involved an easy walk-in for six for running back William Litton before Trevor Locke picked off a Gator pass that was returned around the redzone, opening up the door for Martin to connect with classmate Erin Mathes on third and fourteen for a touchdown along the right sideline.
Showing no signs of letting up, Quitman got back on the board with a 40-yard run from Austin Welch on the first play from scrimmage to make it 34-0, getting a spin and score from Tyler Ritter and sophomore Trevor Hensley reeled off a 31-yard run that seen him go from receiving the handoff to reaching the endzone in the literal blink of an eye.
The Bulldogs coasted the rest of the way following the intermission, going the distance for the victory, starting 2020 in the same fashion they began 2018 and 2019.
Holden Martin completed 9 of 10 passes for 126 yards and three touchdowns, clipping on an addition five yards and one touchdown through the rushing game, which was led by Hensley, who rushed seven times for 73 yards and three touchdowns. Litton, Welch, Mathes, Ritter and Love all clipped on touchdowns of their own, while Trevor Locke accumulated a team-high seven tackles for the defense. Mathes completed 5 of 7 extra point kick attempts for the special teams.
Melbourne 34, Quitman 6
On the road for the first time in 2020 against a traditionally strong Bearkatz program, the Bulldogs had their hands full from start to finish, trailing 7-6 after the first quarter before Melbourne seized the next three with a 27-0 run over the final 36 minutes.
On an early three and out, Quitman punted the football to Eli Harold of the Melbourne special teams unit, who took it all the way in for the first touchdown of the contest on an 80-yard run. Senior Erin Mathes, who has shown to be a jack of all trades for the Bulldogs, scooped and scored for the squad’s only touchdown of the evening, coming with 1:13 to go in the opening quarter, cutting the lead down to 7-6.
The Bearkatz would rebound from the blemish, however, clipping on a rushing touchdown before the locker room intermission, holding Quitman scoreless over the course of the second half while putting 20 points of their own on the scoreboard to coast to the victory.
Mathes provided the lone Bulldog score in the form of a fumble recovery that resulted in a 66-yard touchdown. Senior Holden Martin completed 15 of 25 passes for 142 yards, getting help from William Litton, who had five pass completions for 65 yards while throwing one interception. Landon Luman hauled in six catches for a grand total of 69 yards, with Mathes adding on seven receptions for 76 yards. Four Bulldogs registered double-digit tackles, including Litton (19), Gannon Vaughn (14), Jett Silor (12) and Mathes (10). Melbourne outgained their opposition offensively 332-239, despite the visitors running 17 more plays and picking up one more first down.
Quitman (1-1) will take this Friday night off as part of a bye week before having the honor of hosting Mountain View, Conway Christian and Johnson County in their next three contests, the latter two of which are 2A-4 league opponents.