ALVORD — The Ponder Lions’ defense created opportunities and their offense took advantage of every chance Friday night.
Ponder forced four turnovers — three interceptions and a fumble — that led to four scores in a 42-20 victory over the Alvord Bulldogs on Friday night at Bulldog Stadium.
“That’s what it’s all about,” said Ponder coach Russ Phillips, who picked up the first win of his career. “We created turnovers. We were aggressive after the turnovers and took some shots down the field. It got us going and got them down. I give credit to our coaches for getting us ready to play.”
All three of the interceptions came in the first half as Ponder built a 27-6 halftime lead.
Dylan Nichelson picked off a Jordan Locklear pass and returned it 52 yards for the score with 4:04 left in the first quarter to put Ponder up 7-0. It was one of two interceptions by Nichelson.
“We came out looking to set the tone on defense and hit them in the mouth,” Nichelson said. “Our defense’s job is to get them off the field. Our offense got the ball and kept making things happen.”
Nichelson’s second pick came with 4:10 left in the first half and set up a two-play, 44-yard scoring drive that ended with a 1-yard Brennan Sooter run to make it 21-6 Ponder.
Less than a minute later, Ponder’s Taylor Littleton came down with an interception as Locklear was hit while throwing the ball. Locklear left the game after the hit and watched the second half from the sidelines.
“He’s probably done for a couple of weeks,” Alvord coach Curtis Enis said. “We think it’s an MCL strain.”
Ponder needed six plays to turn the turnover into a 2-yard scoring run by quarterback Reid Sanders.
Sanders ran for two scores and threw for two more. He finished 14-for-22 passing for 261 yards. He connected with Christian Worthington and Tanner Yeager for touchdowns passes of 49 and 42 yards.
“It’s a new system,” Phillips said. “He’s got to read what’s in front of him. He did a good job. I’m proud of him and the team.”
Casen Baker played quarterback for the Bulldogs in the second half. He led Alvord to a pair of touchdowns, including his own 26-yard run to cap the scoring.
Joe Randall added a 45-yard dash to the end zone for Alvord. The sophomore, who ran for 200 yards last week, finished with 98 on 14 carries.
Brandon Aeling added 97 yards on 14 carries. Alvord finished with 229 yards rushing, but it could not overcome the four turnovers or the 371 yards given up by its defense.
“It was the exact opposite of last week,” Enis said. “We won last week because we had a clean game offensively, and defensively we played disciplined. Tonight, offensively we were not clean and defensively not disciplined. That’s all a recipe for a loss.”
Ponder 42, Alvord 20
P — 4:04, Dylan Nichelson 52 interception return, Coleman James kick.
A — 7:13, Benni Browne 23 pass from Jordan Locklear, kick failed.
P — 5:06, Christian Worthington 49 pass from Reid Sanders, James kick.
P — 3:41, Brennan Sooter 1 run, James kick.
P — 0:45, Sanders 2 run, kick failed.
P — 7:14, Tanner Yeager 42 pass from Sanders, Nichelson pass from Yeager.
A — 6:14, Joe Randall 45 run, run failed.
P — 11:56, Sanders 3 run, James kick.
A — 6:28, Casen Baker, 26 run.
Rushing — P: Brennan Sooter 17-52, Reid Sanders 6-17, Tanner Yeager 1-5, Trey Dunlap 7-32, Austin Leveridge 1-3. A: Joe Randall 14-98, Brandon Aeling 14-97, Casen Baker 12-30, Jordan Locklear 1-4.
Passing — P: Sanders 14-22-0-261. A: Randall 2-8-3-25, Baker 1-5-0-10.
Receiving — P: Leveridge 3-55, Yeager 5-71, Christian Worthington 4-123, Spencer Waldo 1-12. A: Baker 1-2, Benni Browne 2-33.