— By SALLY SEXTON
MILLSAP — Just a few weeks back, the Millsap Bulldogs were nearing the tail-end of an extended losing streak. Now, the Bulldogs are on the verge of perpetuating a streak of a different kind.
Millsap won its second game in a row by beating Rio Vista Friday night, 20-0, in front of its Homecoming crowd. The win also puts the Bulldogs at 1-0 to start district play.
“This was a special night, especially for our seniors on Homecoming,” head coach Kyle Coker said. “This was our first shutout in I don’t know how long and we’re excited to be 1-0 in district.”
The defense kept the Bulldogs alive in the first half, as the score was knotted 0-0 at halftime.
Millsap pulled its first big stop on Rio Vista’s first drive of the game, when the Eagles came up short on fourth-and-7 at Millsap’s 17-yard line.
The Bulldogs forced Rio to punt on its next two possessions, before stopping them on another fourth down on the Millsap 5-yard line.
“I’m proud of our defense and the way they played tonight,” Coker said. “They came up with some big stops to keep us in it.”
After back-to-back punts for the Eagles, Millsap got its first points, when Nick Lucia found Timothy Newberry for a 32-yard touchdown. Mitchell Coker’s point-after made it a 7-0 contest with three minutes to play in the third.
The Bulldogs widened the gap to start the fourth quarter, finishing up a long drive with a two-yard plunge by Andrew Tyson to make it 13-0. Millsap would have another chance moments later, when the special teams recovered the kickoff to get possession at Rio’s 27-yard line. But the Bulldogs offense could not convert on the opportunity.
Five minutes later, however, Millsap put its final score on the board with another run by Tyson, this time for 21 yards. Coker’s PAT capped the scoring for the Bulldogs.
“We knew we were right there in the first half. We just couldn’t get over the hump,” Coker said. “I think we were a little flat from last week’s win, but we had some big plays that really got us going in the second half.”
Millsap looks to keep its turnaround intact next week, as it travels to play the Tolar Rattlers in another District 6-2A, Div. II match on Friday. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.