By Rob Potter
JEFFERSONVILLE September 8, 2000 It was a day of firsts Saturday at the Jeffersonville-Youngsville campus of the Sullivan West Central School District.
Wearing Carolina blue jerseys and sporting silver helmets that sparkled in the hot sun, the inaugural Sullivan West Bulldog football team took to the field for the first time.
And the Bulldogs recored their first win with a 14-0 shutout of the defending Section IX Class C champion Liberty Indians.
But after neither team could find the end zone in the first three quarters, the first overtime in Sullivan West football history was a possibility.
Bulldog running back Kevin Mullally put his name in the record books with 14:01 left in the fourth quarter. On a second-and-nine play, the junior took a handoff from quarterback Jacob Sauer-Jones who came into the game for a few plays to spell starting quarterback Bill Reichmann after Reichmann left the field with leg cramps and raced down the left sideline for a 53-yard touchdown and the first points scored by a Sullivan West gridiron squad.
Sauer-Jones then added the two-point conversion on a bootleg run to give Sullivan West (10, 10 Class C) an 8-0 lead.
Liberty (01, 01 Class C) wasted little time in an attempt to score a tying touchdown. On third-and-nine from its own 41-yard-line, tailback Mike Poje ran left and suddenly stopped. He then threw the ball downfield to wide receiver Chris Winters, who ran to the Bulldog 6 before being tackled.
But Sullivan Wests Ryan Schumacher recovered a fumble on the next play to stop the Indian drive.
After the Bulldogs were forced to punt, the Indians had another good opportunity to put points on the board. But on a first-and-10 play at the Sullivan West 24, Liberty fumbled again, Sullivan Wests Brian Weston recovered the ball to end the threat.
After each team could not move the ball very far on two possessions, yet another Liberty drive ended in Sullivan West territory. Following an incomplete fourth down pass, the Bulldogs took over on their own 30 with less than two minutes remaining. Mullally, who finished the day with 200 yards rushing on 16 carries, took the handoff and ran into the middle of the line.
After disappearing among the pile of players for a split second, Mullally emerged alone and took off for the end zone. A few seconds and 70 yards later, Mullallys second touchdown run of the afternoon gave Sullivan West a 14-0 lead.
Once I broke through the line, I thought I better get into the end zone or else the guys will be mad, Mullally said. The guys up front did a great job opening up holes. Im glad theyre on my team.
Both Mullally and Sullivan West head coach Ron Bauer noted that the Bulldogs have been working well together in pre-season practices. Despite coming from the former Delaware Valley, Jeffersonville-Youngsville and Narrowsburg districts, the players have put old rivalries aside and joined together as Bulldogs.
That cohesiveness really showed in the second half.
We got our blocking down better in the second half, Bauer said. And we played good defense. All of the kids are playing together well.
Liberty coach Mike Castelli also noticed how the Bulldogs played as one unit.
You have to give Sullivan West a lot of credit, Castelli commented. They have kids from three [former] districts and they put together a team that works hard and played well today.
Castelli said that he was a little disappointed by the way his team played. He said the Indians, who lost 13 starters from last seasons championship team, didnt give the effort I thought they were going to give today.
But give credit to Sullivan West, they came out and got the win, Castelli added. We just have to go back to the chalkboard.
Paul Barrett added 65 yards rushing for Sullivan West and Reichmann was 2-for-4 passing for 45 yards.
For Liberty, Poje led the offense with 46 yards rushing. He also recorded 13 tackles on defense.