By Chad Robert Snyder
Pilot staff writer
In a game that was as riveting and physical as it was littered with flags, the Bruin varsity football team came away with a 22-21 win Friday night versus Sutherlin.
The game will doubtless live in Bruin lore as one of the most exciting and fiercely fought contests in recent memory, and as the game that featured an astounding individual performance from a gifted athlete, Dustin Paradis.
If you only witnessed the first half, you might not have thought much of the battle. The Bulldogs took a 7-6 lead to halftime after two quarters of give-and-take football.
Paradis did have several big runs in the half including a 47-yard TD run but for long stretches, the Bruins and the Bulldogs were unable to move the ball.
In the opening minutes of the second half however, it appeared as though something triggered in the Bruins. After Paradis returned the second half kickoff 37 yards, all the pieces seemed to fall into place.
"The lines started doing a great job," said Head Coach Jim Keys. "We made some halftime adjustments and it worked out."
The results were obvious on the field. Paradis found ample running room and the defense began harassing the Bulldogs on nearly every snap.
Despite the stellar play, the Bulldogs did manage a third quarter TD and the Bruins found themselves eight points behind. Undaunted, the Bruins seemed to find another gear on both sides of the ball, and the tempo and physicality of the game reached a fevered pitch.
The four quarter looked and sounded like a prize fight. After the Bruins tied the score on an impressive drive including another long run by Paradis they inexplicably committed a face-mask penalty and opened the door for the Bulldogs to score their final TD.
Down seven and with the clock becoming an issue, Paradis took control of the game. After a 65-yard kickoff return, he finished the drive himself with pounding runs for which Sutherlin had no answer.
After Paradis' 1-yard TD run came the decision of the game. With 3:58 left, Keys had a choice, try for the extra point or go for two and the win. He opted to go for two, and Paradis delivered on a tough run off the left guard.
Responsibility for the win then transferred to the defense, and they delivered. Derek Chavez was unstoppable in the closing minutes, with multiple tackles for loss and a key QB sack.
"He was everywhere, and we weren't stunting him too much, he was just reading and coming hard," Keys said.
The Bulldogs had one final opportunity with 1:13 left, but again the Bruins defense was insurmountable and both Paradis and Chavez contributed plays to crush the Bulldogs hopes.
Assistant Head Coach Dave Freeman said he was proud of the team on Friday, and floored by Paradis' performance.
"Dustin is an incredible kid," he said. "You can put anyone in front of him and he'll knock them down."
Keys thought for a while when asked about Paradis.
"We just rode the big dog home," he said.