By Bryan Helvie Rushville Republican
---- — BATESVILLE — Two teams entered Friday night undefeated and something had to give. The Batesville Bulldogs went to a perfect 4-0 for the first time since 2009 with a 21-0 victory over the visiting Rushville Lions (3-1).
Defensively, the Bulldogs continued to provide the spark. The Lions were held to only 24 yards passing and 88 on the ground. The Bulldogs recorded three interceptions and recovered one fumble.
“The defense has been the heart and soul of this team for the first four games,” BHS head coach Eric Heppner said. “Tonight, they were put in some tough situations and got us out of them each time.”
Scoreless at the end of the first two quarters, neither team could establish much momentum.
The Bulldogs capitalized on a key fourth down run by quarterback Connor Schuck early in the fourth quarter. The play came right after a 12-yard pass play from Schuck to Austin Westerfeld, which set up the fourth-and-five situation.
Two plays later, Batesville senior Boston Gowan scampered 18 yards around the left side for the game’s first score. Peter Heil added the extra point to make it 7-0 at the 8:59 mark.
The Lions continued to struggle against the Bulldog defense. A three-and-out led to a punt on the next possession. Their next series resulted in a near interception by Tom Chaffee and later another punt.
The third quarter ended with the Bulldogs in front 7-0.
Batesville scored early in the fourth quarter and the momentum was visibly in favor of the home team.
Schuck connected with wide receiver Ryan Wilson for a 16 yard touchdown. Wilson battled his way to the goal line with a host of Lions trying to bring him down. Heil’s second extra point made the score 14-0 at the 10:09 mark.
Rushville’s Garrett Hittle came up with the team’s biggest play from scrimmage soon after the second BHS score. Hittle busted through the line and sprinted to the 25 yard line before being cutoff at the sideline.
Then Rushville coach Rocky Alspaugh opted to go to the air on the next play. The Bulldogs got a good surge at the line of scrimmage and sacked quarterback Clay Tressler for a 10-yard loss. After an incomplete pass and a penalty, the Lions were pushed back to midfield.
Eventually, the Batesville defense forced a punt and avoided what looked to be a good scoring opportunity for the Lions.
Chaffee later intercepted a Tressler pass and returned it nearly 40 yards to the Rushville 30-yard line.
A 28 yard run by Clayton McKinley pushed the ball to the 2-yard line. Two plays later, McKinley found the end zone. It became a 21-0 lead with 4:24 to play in the game.
Both teams finished the game with only six first downs.
The Bulldogs managed 52 yards through the air and 110 on the ground.
Gowan finished with 38 yard rushing on nine carries, while Schuck had 36
followed by McKinley with 32.
Hittle led the ground attack for the Lions with 14 carries and 64 yards.
Zach Turner was second on the team in rushing with 14 carries and 22 yards.