SHELBY - County rivalry games seem to always be tightly contested games for a years worth of bragging rights. Add into the mix a conference championship at stake, and you have the makings of a classic. That was just the case Friday night at Shelby's Blanton Memorial Stadium as the Burns Bulldogs defeated the Golden Lions 14-9.
Shelby missed an early opportunity to take a lead on the first drive of the game after a 40+ yard field goal attempt flew just wide of the uprights. However the Bulldogs gave the ball right back after just three plays on a fumbled hand-off at the six yard line. The Golden Lion offense was only able to gain two yards on three plays though, and settled for a short field goal for an early 3-0 lead.
QB Chris Montgomery brought the Bulldogs right back, giving Burns a 7-3 lead on a 57 yard scoring connection to Gilbert Brooks with 1:32 to play in the first quarter.
After a long injury timeout, Golden Lion running back Raqwan Washington darted into the endzone on the opening play of the second quarter from 16 yards away, giving Shelby the lead once again. After Quintel Houser blocked Manning Burton's extra point try, it was 9-7 Shelby.
The remainder of the first half was a story of missed chances for both teams. Shelby drove into Bulldog territory midway through the second quarter, however an incomplete pass on a fake punt halted the drive. Another Golden Lion drive was brought to an end with a high snap on fourth down. The Bulldogs also saw a drive deep into their opponents territory come up empty with less than a minute remaining til halftime.
Burns received the second half kickoff and culminated an 80 yard drive with a 27 yard Montgomery to Jaylin Hill connection, giving the Bulldogs the eventually decisive 14-9 advantage.
The Bulldog defense was able to come up with key stops throughout the second half, holding Shelby scoreless in the final two quarters.
With the win, Burns earns their third straight SMAC Conference Championship, and finishes the regular season 8-3 overall and 6-0 in SMAC play. Shelby (6-5, 4-2 SMAC) will still take the #1 2A SMAC seed and will have atleast one home playoff game.