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CRESWELL – It was the day after their season had ended in heartbreaking fashion, and some football players at Creswell High School gathered to watch the Bulldogs’ state volleyball victory Saturday.
The players could have been forgiven if their moods were still a little sour from a 30-29 loss to Monroe less than 18 hours earlier, but that was not the case.
“We had a great season but we’re gonna be a lot better next year,” junior quarterback Connor Hanson said. “We’re definitely going to state next year.”
As usual, Hanson had another big game, and at one juncture looked like he would be the hero of the night.
Just after Monroe had taken its first lead, 22-21, on Brody Ballard’s 5-yard touchdown run with 10:49 left, Hanson provided the game’s most electrifying moment on the next play, scooting around left end for a 71-yard score. His 2-point conversion pass to Cade Dimmick made it 29-22.
But the visiting Dragons – with a state tournament berth on the line – rallied again, scoring on another Ballard 5-yard run with 5:57 to play. Ballard’s conversion run made it 30-29.
Ballard scored three second-half touchdowns. The Bulldogs took a 21-6 lead into intermission.
“We dominated them and felt pretty good about things at halftime,” Creswell coach Scott Worsham said. “They came out in the second half and ran hard and I think No. 9 (Ballard) just willed their team to victory.”
On its final possession, as Monroe was trying to run out the clock, the Dragons benefited from a controversial personal foul penalty against Creswell as Dimmick was flagged for tackling the ball carrier for a 4-yard loss.
“It was an unfortunate call at that point in the game,” Worsham said.
The coach said he was particularly pleased with the effort of his pass defense.
“The Jefferson coach said he had only one completion last game for negative-8 yards,” Worsham said. “Then tonight, we didn’t allow any completions. I think Monroe was 0-for-10.”
One of those passes was intercepted by Logan Gordon. “That was a big pick just before the half. They were trying to score deep in the red zone,” Worsham said.
Maysen Scovil led the Bulldogs with 9 tackles while three teammates –Juan Beltran, Jack Nguyen and Reece Germen – added six tackles each.
Hanson rushed 18 times for 163 yards and three scores while completing 10-of-13 passes for 97 yards. Nguyen rushed 9 times for 69 yards and one TD while catching 5 passes 48 yards.
“We had a great season. It didn’t quite end the way we wanted,” Worsham said. “But I feel good about our accomplishments and I can’t wait to get started again next season.”