Canton outlasts Rockland in battle of the Bulldogs

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It was a battle of the Bulldogs as Canton traveled to nonleague Rockland, and when the dust settled, CHS prevailed thanks to a late interception by junior Dan Alice and a 25-yard field goal by kicker Thomas Monagle.

Jake Ragusa and Dan Alice celebrate a Bulldog touchdown. (Julia M. Cohen photo)

Jake Ragusa and Dan Alice celebrate a Bulldog touchdown. (Julia M. Cohen photo)

Canton led 14-0 at halftime, but Rockland stormed back in the third quarter and early portions of the fourth quarter to trail 17-14 with 2:16 remaining in the game.

On a fourth-down play, Alice intercepted a Rockland pass at the Canton 45-yard line to seal the win for the Bulldogs.

Previewing the season, head coach Dave Bohane said the strength of the team is in the offensive and defensive lines, and this was evident in the first half as the Canton Bulldogs, led by Joe Bires and Alice, rushed for 97 yards behind the blocks of linemen Brian Smith, Mac Brown, Kenny Dulcio, Nick MacGregor, Chris Albert, and Jude Albert.

In all, the Canton ground game churned out almost 200 yards with Bires gaining 50 yards and Woanyen Mahn showing his speed with a 27-yard run. Bohane said the Canton rushing attack should improve with a diverse mix of runners, including Bires, Jake Ragusa, Alice, and Mahn.

Defensively, Ragusa picked off where he left off last year at linebacker with seven tackles. But the difference this year was several sacks by defensive linemen, including three by Smith and one each by McGregor, Jude Albert, and Dulcio.

Junior quarterback Dennis Ross played well for his first game leading the team, hitting receiver Michael Harris for 66 yards through the air, highlighted by an acrobatic, one-handed catch by Harris for 55 yards. Ross almost connected with a wide-open Harris on two other attempts, and this will be a good offensive threat in a run-dominated offensive attack.

Bohane said the Rockland game was a great teaching lesson for his young Bulldogs, coming into a hotbed of football and making enough big plays to fend off the host team.

“We are young on offense and a work in progress, but we will get better,” he said. “We have a good offensive line. [Ross] played well for his first game and he will get better too. The offense will continue to evolve. The defense was solid and will get better too. I think the young secondary played well and made the big plays when we needed them. All in all, a good first win on the road.”

The Bulldogs will play their home opener tomorrow night at 7 p.m. against Bedford.

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