MELBOURNE A number of factors all came together to make it a very special night for the Melbourne Bulldogs.
Jayden Jackson scored a pair of touchdowns despite playing with a splint on his right hand and kicker Ben Baldwin hit a pair of field goals – including one from 44 yard out – as the Bulldogs defeated visiting Bayside 27-7 Friday night in a non-district game for their second win of the season.
“I’m happy for them,” Melbourne coach Scott Grish said. “The kids deserve it. They work their butts off and we keep fighting.”
Not only was it Melbourne’s homecoming game – which meant a packed house — but the players got some extra motivation from meeting a few members of the school’s 1966 state championship team.
On the field, the Bulldogs were able to overcome some of the offensive struggles that have plagued them all season (particularly inside their opponent’s 30-yard line) to score on three of their first four possessions and take a 17-0 lead.
“We worked from the 30-in all week offensively,” Grish said. “We’d get up to the ball and run plays and try to run in cohesion, things that we do best and put the right guys where they need to be.
“It worked out better tonight. We’re pretty pleased with that.”
Melbourne jumped on the board right away as Jackson scored on runs of three and two yards on the Bulldogs’ first two possessions, both of which also included a couple of key passing plays.
Bulldogs quarterback Nick Nescio hit Corey Vincitore with a 16-yard pass on the first drive, then connected with Will Kable on a 64-yard play on the next possession.
Both times, Jackson was able to cash in following those long passes.
“I really have to give it up to my line,” Jackson said. “If it wasn’t for them, I would have had nothing. It’s all them.”
The Melbourne senior running back, who broke his hand making a tackle against Viera several weeks ago, said it wasn’t hard to carry the ball despite having to wear the splint.
It certainly didn’t see to affect him on defense, where he came up with several pass breakups. The Bulldogs (2-5) also got strong play on defense from Hunter Lee and Billy Frazier, who recovered a Bayside fumble. Nescio also had an interception for the Bulldogs.
Melbourne’s third touchdown came in the second half when Shannon Birks turned a short pass into a 43-yard sprint to the end zone.
For Bayside, Kevin Hill caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Jordan McIlvain and the Bears (0-8) also got some good production from Jaylon Malcom and Joel Dorjuste. However, some breakdowns and missed assignments on offense and defense would prove costly.
“That’s kind of been the story of the season,” Bears coach Mike Nahl said. “We move the ball well and then make execution errors or blow assignments on defense and give up big plays.”
While the Bears will try to regroup next week, the Bulldogs will be hoping they can turn Friday night’s win into something bigger in the season’s final weeks.
“We can feed off this,” Jackson said. “It’s been a long time since we won. The train’s rolling. We’ve just got to keep it going and going; keep fighting.”
MELBOURNE 27, BAYSIDE 7
Bayside 0 7 0 0 – 7
Melbourne 14 3 7 3 – 27
HOW THEY SCORED
M: Jayden Jackson 3 run (Ben Baldwin kick), 7:35
M: Jayden Jackson 2 run (Ben Baldwin kick), 5:30
M: Ben Baldwin 21 FG, 4:54
B: Kevin Hill 8 pass from Jordan McIlvain (Rachel Van Mier kick), 1:44
M: Shannon Birks 43 pass from Nick Nescio (Ben Baldwin kick), 7:56
M: Ben Baldwin 44 FG, 1:34
RUSHING: B–Sheridon Archer 7-20-, Jordan McIlvain 8-14, D’Andre Edwards 5-13, Joel Dorjuste 8-12, Derrin Chandler 3-8. M–Jayden Jackson 11-55, Shannon Birks 10-22, Hyatt Kempfer 2-20, Nick Nescio 4-9, Corey Vincitore 1-(-4), Nigel Scott 5-(-12).
PASSING: B–McIlvain 14-35-121-1-1, Dorjuste 1-4-19-0-0. M–Nescio 5-11-160-1-0, Scott 2-4-34-0-0.
RECEIVING: B–Kevin Hill 5-40, Dorjuste 4-27, Jaylon Malcolm 2-64, Archer 2-(-5), Sean Gaspard 1-7, Johnny Poret 1-7. M–Wills Kable 2-84, Vincitore 2-33, Birks 1-43, Will Loring 1-20, Jeff Richardson 1-14.