Early in the fourth quarter, Augusta's football team got back into Friday night's game against Ark City after the Bulldogs seemed to be in control.
Quarterback Tristan Finch capped a 60-yard drive that spanned about 4 minutes with a quick strike to Chaydon Carter, who used his state-track blazing speed to score a 25-yard touchdown. The PAT brought the Orioles within 10 at 23-13 with nearly the whole quarter still to play.
But Ark City answered with a game-defining drive to go back ahead 30-13. Augusta scored one more time, but it wasn't enough as the Bulldogs won 30-19.
"Very frustrating. Our kids had fought and continue to fight," coach Roger Robben said. "We're not going to stop...This week we need to come back and do some things that are positive.
"There's a group on our team I thought played extremely hard tonight, and there's another group that's going to have to make a decision of what they're going to do to help us. That's my challenge to them going into this new season," Robben said, referring to Districts, which start next week.
On the drive that sealed it for Ark City, the Bulldogs marched 71 yards on 13 plays and ate nearly 6 minutes off the clock. The Bulldogs rotated between running backs Mitch Rowe and Tyler Tracy. Tracy capped the drive with a five-yard touchdown.
Ark City outrushed Augusta 265-64. Trae Goken and company struggled to find running lanes for the Orioles.
Augusta did, however, find its groove in the passing game, at times. Dustyn McEachern, who got the start at quarterback for the injured Finch, completed 6 of 16 passes for 107 yards. That included a 32-yard touchdown strike to Connor Hurst to pull Augusta within seven at 14-7 during the second quarter. McEachern's only real bad play was a costly one. He threw an interception that was returned 52 yards to set up an Ark City touchdown that bumped the score to 20-7.
Late in the first half, McEachern was injured and had to come out of the game. He was later seen on crutches on the sideline. Finch came in and completed 5 of 6 passes for 110 yards and two scores, both to Carter. Finch was hurt during practice this week, though he was able to play on defense a large part of the night.
"I thought Dustyn did a pretty good job for the time he was in there," Robben said. "Unfortunately he got hurt, so we'll just have to see what his status is."
Whether it was McEachern or Finch who went back to pass, the Bulldogs did not make life easy. They continued to bring pressure, and Robben said the Orioles' lack of execution at times didn't help their cause. Ark City finished with three sacks, and two of them were drive-killing plays against the Orioles.
Carter finished the night with four receptions for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
Tracy finished with 144 yards on the ground for Ark City.
Finch led the Orioles with 10 solo tackles and 13 total tackles. Caleb Faulconer had 10, Anthony Castillo had nine and Blake Watkins had eight.