By Lucas Rains
Local Sports Journal

RAVENNA – The Ravenna Bulldogs clearly enjoy being in the playoffs.

It’s a thrill this group of players had never experienced, because Ravenna hadn’t qualified for the postseason since 2011.Shoreline football instory art

That long drought ended Saturday with a bang as the Bulldogs pounded Carson City-Crystal 42-14 in a Division 6 pre-district playoff game.

Ravenna, now 8-2, advances to play 9-1 Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian next week on the road. The Mustangs defeated Fennville 49-6 in its opening round matchup.

“Anytime you can win in the playoffs, it’s a nice win,” Ravenna Coach David Smith said. “Being as young as we are, and having our two senior leaders out with injuries, it’s big. That’s a pretty good Carson City team.”

Ravenna's David Thompson breaks free. Photo/Jason Goorman

Ravenna’s David Thompson breaks free for a big gain. Photo/Jason Goorman

Ravenna thrived on the ground, racking up over 300 yards in rushing against the Eagle defense.

Sophomore David Thompson had a monster day, running for 199 yards and four touchdowns. Senior fullback Gabe Zimmer added 89 yards, mostly in the second half.

“We ran a little slow at the beginning there,” Smith said. “There were some missed blocks and (Carson City-Crystal) came out and were bringing their linebackers and our guys weren’t quite up to speed.

“We made some adjustments at halftime and we figured we would eventually wear them down. Our offensive line got it going in the second half.”

For the second straight week, Ravenna quarterbacks Dakota Hudson and Nick Castenholz split time. The duo combined to throw just seven passes, but were efficient in gaining 107 yards through the air, including a 32-yard touchdown from Hudson to tight end Alex Jawor.

Alex Jawor breaks away from an opposing defender. Photo/Jason Goorman

Alex Jawor breaks away from an opposing defender. Photo/Jason Goorman

Jawor finished with three catches for 90 yards.

Carson City-Crystal got the ball to start the game and coughed up a fumble, which was recovered by Ravenna’s Korson Mundinger. Three plays later, Thompson ran 27 yards and dove for the pylon to put the Bulldogs up 7-0 with 7:55 to go in the first quarter.

Ravenna added to its lead early in the second quarter, when Hudson found Jawor on a quick play action pass. Jawor rumbled 32 yards into the end zone to give Ravenna a 14-0 advantage.

Carson City-Crystal responded immediately with a score of its own. Taylor Barkley got the ball on a handoff up the middle and ran 64 yards untouched, thanks to a couple fakes in the backfield that had almost everyone at the stadium fooled.

Ravenna led 14-7 at the half.

The Ravenna offense found its groove in the second half, starting on the opening drive. Thompson scored his second touchdown of the game on a 65-yard scamper, bouncing outside and outrunning the defenders. His score put Ravenna up 21-7.

The Eagles once again responded, this time with a bit of luck. Dallas O’Green ran 48 yards and was tackled inside the Ravenna 5-yard line.

Mundinger caught him from behind and stripped the ball, but Carson City-Crystal jumped on it. Barkley punched in a 2-yard score on the next play, pulling the Eagles within seven points with 8:45 left in the third.

The turning point came on a fourth-and-four play for Ravenna at the Eagle 44.

Jawor caught a Castenholz pass for a 32 yard gain, the same play he scored on earlier in the game. On the next play Thompson ran 12 yards for his third touchdown of the game, putting the Bulldogs up 28-14 with 5:48 left in the third.

The fourth quarter was the Zimmer show, with the fullback getting a ton of carries that helped Ravenna eat up the clock.

With 3:29 left, Hudson ran a bootleg around the outside of the defense for a 5-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 35-14.

Thompson capped off the scoring with just 25 seconds left on a 10-yard run,

Outside of a couple big runs, the Ravenna defense held the Eagle offense in check. Carson City-Crystal ran a full house offense, which is hard to defend at times.

“It was a group effort, like always (defensively),” Smith said. “(Carson City’s running backs) are tough runners. Being little, quick guys, when they pack it in so tight, you can lose those guys. Just making a wall so they couldn’t get through was the key.”