VALLEY CENTER -- The Arkansas City defense shut out host Valley Center through the final three quarters Friday night, helping the Bulldogs to a 13-7 victory in AV-CTL D-II action at Valley Center Middle School.
The Bulldogs (2-5, 2-3 AV-CTL D-II) were on a five-game losing skid almost this exact time last season before toppling Valley Center, which helped to lead to a deep run in the Class 4A State playoffs.
Ark City snapped a similar five-game skid last weekend on Homecoming night against Andover.
Freshman quarterback Gabe Welch threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Schnackenberg, and Tommy Pacheco booted two more field goals, helping the Bulldogs to a 13-7 halftime lead.
Neither team found the end zone in the second half, but the Bulldogs got their ground game going, with tailback Braiden Mattocks eating up yards -- and precious clock -- while the Ark City defense did what its been doing best: shutting down the opposing offense.
Pacheco gave the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead with a 35-yard field goal with 8:34 left in the first quarter on Ark City's first possession of the game.
The Hornets (2-5, 1-4) briefly took a 7-3 lead when quarterback Kaleb Harden found Gabe Phillips for a 10-yard touchdown with 1:42 remaining in the first quarter.
Ark City responded with an 11-play, 80-yard drive that spanned the first and second quarters and was capped by Welch's TD pass to Schnackenberg. The drive was aided by a pass interference penalty on the Hornets and a 10-yard run by Mattocks on fourth-and-2 as the first quarter wound down. Mattocks also broke off a 16-yard run on another fourth-and-2 to extend the drive.
Jamauri Jordan stood up Harden on a QB keeper on fourth-and-8 as the Hornets turned over the ball on downs.
The resulting drive stalled and the Bulldogs were forced to punt. However, on Valley Center's first play from scrimmage, Jordan intercepted Harden and returned it to the Hornets 30-yard line.
The Bulldogs converted another fourth down on an 18-yard pass from Welch to Schnackenberg on fourth-and-10 to the Valley Center 12-yard line with 10 seconds remaining in the first half.
Ark City tried one pass play that fell incomplete with five ticks on the clock, and Pacheco booted a 27-yard field goal at the halftime buzzer.
For complete coverage of Bulldogs football, see Tuesday's CourierTraveler.