LITTLE ROCK — Pulaski Academy wanted to play the Springdale Bulldogs in the Hooten's Kickoff Classic. They wanted the Bulldogs as badly as anybody could want them...
... Up until about the second quarter.
A thunderstorm roared through War Memorial Stadium in the second quarter and even the rain pelting off the Pulaski Academy helmets was relief from the spanking the Bruins were getting from No. 1-ranked Springdale.
Eight different Bulldogs scored touchdowns and the Springdale defense held the potent Bruins — complete with six projected Division I prospects on the roster — to 78 total net yards in a 62-0 shellacking Monday afternoon. "I figured we would score some points, but I didn't think we would score 62," Springdale coach Gus Malzahn said. "But to shut out a team like that, I'm tickled to death that our defense played so well."
Highly-touted PA quarterback Adam Thrash was 4-of-19 for 20 yards against a strong pass rush and the Bulldogs' hard-hitting secondary. Backup quarterback Stephen Newell threw for 30 yards during garbage time, which began after the teams took the field for the second-half kickoff.
By then, Springdale led 48-0 and had only misstepped once, on the final play of the first half.
The Bulldogs set up for a 39-yard field goal attempt before time expired. The snap was mishandled and PA buried the play for a 17-yard loss.
It left no rays of hope for the Bruins, however.
Faced with a running clock and a multitude of young Springdale players getting their first varsity action, Pulaski Academy was still outscored 14-0 in the second half. "We jumped on them early, got a little momentum and it snowballed on them and we went from there," Malzahn said. "What I'm excited about is the zero up there. Our defense played great against an outstanding offensive team... and they will rebound. They've got some great players."
Zach Butler ran 14 times for 107 yards and found the end zone twice. His 6-yard run came on the first play of the second quarter and his 5-yard burst finished the firsthalf scoring after Kolby Paxton picked off a Thrash pass.
Every play from scrimmage in the first quarter started and finished within 50 yards of the PA goal line. Josh Fields culminated a 42-yard drive with a 14-yard run to open the scoring.
Sophomore Aaron Finch would not have been high on the list of likely touchdown scorers, but he made it 13-0 when he blocked a Thrash punt and rambled 17 yards.
Brett Buresh's 48-yard catch of a Brandon Martinez pass — one of only five the Bulldogs threw and two for touchdowns — made it 20-0.
Martinez followed Butler's first score with a three-yard run to make it 34-0 and Brock Posey scored on a 12-yard reception from the senior quarterback before Butler upped the ante to 48. "Our quarterback played extremely well, the offensive line opened up some huge holes and we had a lot of different guys carry the football," Malzahn said. "And I was really happy with the way our guys handled the football in the rain."
The Bulldogs meet Shiloh Christian next in what may be the final "Battle of Springdale." For the Saints and Springdale's future opponents, Malzahn left more than a 62-point message behind. "We'll open it up more in the future," Malzahn said. "We were taking kind of what the defense was giving us."