Bullis suffered a heartbreaking loss to archrival Landon on Saturday night, falling 12-7. Despite the absence of both starting quarterbacks, each team played at a very high level. Prior to its date with Landon, Bullis had not been tested, cruising to a 7-0 record with an astonishing 32 point average margin of victory. In a game that truly could have gone either way, Bullis got the short end of the stick on Saturday.
For the first time against a conference opponent, Bullis could not get their running game going. They turned 30 rushing attempts into a mere 90 yards, well below the season average. Landon was clearly intent on stopping the run game as they packed defenders as close to the line of scrimmage as possible and sent up to seven or eight defenders on blitzes on a given play.
As a result, head coach Pat Cilento was forced to open up the playbook and put the game in the hands of quarterback Yusef Muhammad ('15), who made his second career start. Muhammad completed 21 of 30 throws, proving that he has command of the Bullis offense. Prior to Saturday, Bullis had not thrown more than 23 times in a single game, so the pressure was clearly on Muhammad and the coaches had confidence in his ability to handle it. He threw for 198 yards and mixed in a few brilliant scrambles on his way to 37 rushing yards. He predominantly targeted Nick Fields ('13), Kyven Jones ('14), and Micah Keels ('15) in the passing game.
In the face of the Landon blitz, Muhammad made some big plays by attacking Landon's short-handed secondary. He found tight end Noah Spriggs ('14) down the middle of the field to put the Bulldogs in scoring range. Running back Devonte Williams ('15) took the subsequent carry down near the goal line before fumbling. Fields alertly recovered the ball in the end zone to score Bullis' lone touchdown of the game.
While Landon's aggressive defensive scheme left them vulnerable to big gains down the field, they also forced the sophomore quarterback into some mistakes. In the first half, Muhammad threw an interception inside the Landon ten-yard line, which was a huge wasted scoring opportunity for Bullis. In the second half, he floated an errant pass into the arms of a Landon safety, who returned the interception deep into Bullis territory, setting up a short field for the Bear offense. Landon would score a touchdown on that drive.
Defensively, the Bulldogs were solid, but not as dominant as they have been. A one-dimensional Landon team that showed little confidence in their backup quarterback only threw the ball twice the entire game. The Bears registered 153 rushing yards, including 79 from running back Myles Allen, who also scored both touchdowns for Landon.
Facing a 12-7 deficit with under three minutes to play, Bullis tried to engineer a game-winning drive. After two short completions gave Bullis a first down at the Landon 46, Williams broke a 13-yard run off the left side to keep the chains moving. From there, the drive stalled. Bullis called timeout after a short completion to Fields. On second down, Williams lost yardage on a running play, which kept the clock running. A short swing pass to Jones picked up only one yard, bringing up fourth down for the Bulldogs at the Landon 29-yard line. Muhammad tried to hit Fields on a slant pattern, but Landon was able to break up a well thrown ball and seal the victory. Muhammad walked off the field with his head down, and the entire team was devastated. They walked off the field to a standing ovation, and several players were fighting back tears as Landon fans stormed the field.
While the Landon loss spoils Bullis' hopes for an undefeated season and makes an IAC championship very unlikely, Bullis fought until the very end and the game could have very easily swung in their favor. The football team put forth a performance to be proud of, and must now turn towards the future. Their next opponent is Episcopal, who has struggled in IAC play. However, they come off a win over St. Stephen's & St. Agnes and will be playing with confidence. That game will be played at Bullis on Friday, November 2 at 7 pm.