It was the J.D. Ibarra show on Friday night as the Brady Bulldogs held off a strong run by the Ballinger Bearcats in the final minutes to open district play with a huge win. Ibarra was able to score two critical touchdowns with less than 4 minutes to go in the game to seal the win for the Bulldogs 54-41.
The Bulldogs were able to score first courtesy of a Ballinger fumble at 8:49 in the first quarter. The Bearcats got their first score at 5:18. Both teams traded touchdowns as the quarter ended in favor of Brady 14-12. In the second quarter, the Bulldogs built the lead up to 28-12 on touchdown runs from Hayden Baronet and J.D. Ibarra. With only .03 remaining in the half, Ballinger's Beau Perkins snuck into the end zone to bring the score to 28-19 favor of Brady at the half. In the third quarter, Brady added two touchdowns (one each by Jones and Ibarra) to one for Ballinger by Nathan McDuffee.
At about 3:59 to go in the 4th quarter, Ballinger was able to get a touchdown to tie the score at 41 all. Then the Bulldog offense behind a 46 yard touchdown run by Ibarra at 3:48 put Brady back on top 48-41. The Bearcats next possession got them to around midfield, after a strong push by the Bulldogs defense, found themselves in a crucial 4th and 1 situation with 1:17 to go. In a gritty play, the Bulldogs defense stood strong and prevented the Bearcats from getting a much needed 1st down.
Following the change of possession, the Bulldogs were able to get a first down as they worked to run out the clock. Then, Ibarra was able to get loose on a 41 yard run for a touchdown with .26 to go putting an exclamation point on the game bringing the final score to 55-41.
When describing how the game went, Brady head coach Shay Easterwood commented, "It was such an emotional rollercoaster of a game! When Ballinger tied it, instead of our kids getting down, they responded in such a positive way and then finished it off when we got the chance - we made a crucial 4th down stop there at the end and (on our) next play, man, we took it to that sucker to the house and put the nail in the coffin." He added, "We never could quite finish Ballinger, they never back down."
"Great to have people healthy. We are going to enjoy this win tonight then tomorrow (Saturday), we got to get ready because district is wide open," Easterwood commented. "We can't celebrate too long because we got a good Sonora team on another road test that we have next week and they put up a lot of points." When asked about the efforts of J.D. Ibarra, Easterwood stated, "What a gutsy warrior he is! Offense, Defense, special teams, physical, leader on and off the field - He will be in there cleaning up the locker room that is just the kind of kid he is."
Offensively for the Bulldogs, they had 374 total yards rushing with Ibarra leading the way with 19 carries for 230 yards and 5 TD's followed by Zeke Jones with 12 carries for 73 yards and 2 TD's. Hayden Baronet had 5 carries for 56 yards and 1 TD. Angel Lopez was 6-7 on extra points. As a team, Brady had 374 total yards on 37 carries.
Next up for the Bulldogs will be a road trip to long time rival Sonora next Friday night with game time at 7PM.