Wildcats pound Marlin Bulldogs 47-0


 With a grinding ground game and a dominating defense, the Whitney Wildcats (2-0) pounded past the Marlin Bulldogs (0-2) with a powerful 47-0 victory Friday night at Wildcat Stadium.
Whitney has outscored its opponents 103-3 in the first two games, but with a cross-county rivalry match against Hillsboro (1-1) on the horizon, Head Coach Mark Byrd knows there is plenty of room for improvement.
“We came out sloppy tonight,” Byrd admitted. “Sure, we put up 20 points in the first half, and I get that, but we were unorthodox sloppy. We made some adjustments at half, settled down and came out with a simple game plan. Our defense continues to thrive for us, but offensively we’ve got some work to do.”
The Wildcats received the opening kickoff against Marlin but were unable to move the ball. The special teams unit quickly stepped up and set the tone as it recovered a bobbled punt return. The turnover put the Wildcats in the rezone, and quarterback Devin Wilson zipped a pass to Juan Saucedo for a touchdown.
Oddly, it was one of only two Wilson completions on the night as the Wildcats elected to keep the ball on the ground, racking up an impressive 346 rushing yards. Wilson finished with five carries for 68 yards.
The teams traded blows until just more than a minute was left in the first quarter, and that’s when Wilson struck again. The senior zig-zagged passed the goal line for a rushing score and a 14-0 lead. The Wildcats then stepped on the gas by recovering an onside kick. Saucedo closed out the first quarter scoring spree with a 26-yard touchdown run.
Up 20-0, the Whitney defense continued to bully Marlin during the second quarter with backfield pressure and a fumble recovery from sophomore Jordan Newton. But offensively, the Wildcats struggled to find a groove were unable to find the scoreboard.
But with a roster full of playmakers and up-and-comers, the Wildcat fans knew it was just a matter of time until the boys in blue rediscovered the momentum.
“We just keep trying to build the book as to what players we do have and our playmakers,” Byrd said. “We definitely can say that Saucedo, Wilson, Tanner and Garner are playmakers. There is no doubt about that. But we have to be able to make everybody defend the field as best as possible.”
In the second half, the outnumbered Bulldogs fell to fatigue and had no answer for the Wildcat attack.
Several solid runs from Saucedo set up a Dez Garner score early in the third quarter to put the lead at 28-0. Saucedo led the Wildcats with 132 rushing yards on nine carries.
Two plays later, the defense rammed into the Bulldog backfield, which resulted in sophomore Dawson Hightower recovering a fumble and barreling into the end zone.
The Wildcats then turned to a trio of Hightower’s second-year classmates: quarterback Garrett Peacock, receiver Levi Whitehead and running back Jordan Newton. The underclassmen shined while gaining crucial experience on the varsity level.
Whitehead was Whitney’s leading receiver on the night and Peacock rushed passed the goal line at the end of the third quarter to stretch the lead to 40-0.
Whitney put the final exclamation point on the game with a dazzling 70-yard scoring sprint from Garner in the fourth quarter.
Following the game, Byrd emphasized to his team that it must pay attention to detail as they next two games against Hillsboro and Robinson will provide a playoff-like competition.
“We are going to see were we are at and how we handle adversity,” Byrd said. “Coach Hale is done a great job over at Hillsboro. Looking at them on film, Hillsboro is big and this is a big rivalry. So how do we play in a big game in this stadium? We’ll find out.”
Kickoff against Hillsboro is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Wildcat Stadium.