An outmanned Mariner squad played tough defense in the first half against an even bigger, faster and deeper DeSoto Bulldogs team, but a critical mental error and a tiring defense in the second half led the Tritons to a 21-7 preseason classic loss Friday night at Tony McKenna Field.
Both teams squandered scoring opportunities in the first half. DeSoto recovered a Mariner fumble at the Mariner 34-yard line on the opening kickoff, then threw an interception on the first play. After taking over on their own 4, the Tritons had a 50-yard pass play called back on an ineligible receiver penalty.
The game settled into a hard hitting affair, with the both defenses dominating play. The Bulldogs' defensive front seven held the Tritons to one first down in the first quarter. Led by defensive end James Alverez's key stops and fumble recovery, the Tritons only gave up two.
The second quarter continued to be a defensive battle. Mariner DB Joey Lantz intercepted a pass and returned it deep in Bulldogs territory, but missed a field goal. After several exchanges of possession, DeSoto put together a couple first downs, but was forced to punt. The snap sailed over the punter's head with the Tritons recovering on the 29 with 1:05 left in the half, but they were unable to punch it in before halftime scoreless.
There was an inauspicious start to the second half when the teams exchanged three fumbles in four plays and the defenses continued to dominate until DeSoto's wing-T began to click as Mariner's defense started to tire.
At the 8:40 mark, the Bulldogs stuck to their running attack, grinding out short and medium gains. Devontere Taylor scored on a 15-yard gallop up the middle.
DeSoto's kickoff bounced around and the Tritons failed to cover the kick. A Bulldog fell on the ball and scored on the fourth play on a pass from Nycarion Williams to LaQuav Hightower covering 12 yards.
The Bulldogs dominated play at this point, scoring on an ensuing possession on a 69-yard scamper by Terrell Gordon.
With a 21-point lead DeSoto began substituting.
Mariner mounted a 70-yard drive to end the game, scoring on a two-yard TD run by Darwin Augustin with 20 seconds left.
The Tritons open the season next Friday night at home against Bishop Verot.
Desoto0 0 14 7 - 21
Mariner0 0 0 7 - 7
DC - Taylor 15 run (Zavala kick)
DC - Hightower 12 pass from Williams (Zavala kick)
DC - Gordon 69 run (Zavala kick)
M - Augustin 2 run (Kuchle kick)