Cowichan’s Damian McCuaig-Jones weaves his way through the Victoria Spartans’ defence during the first half of Sunday’s VMFL game at McAdam Park. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Running game not enough as mistakes cause trouble for ’Dogs

Midget football team still hoping to improve ranking before playoffs

The midget Cowichan Bulldogs got their ground game going against the Victoria Spartans, but a series of errors on both sides of the ball put them on the wrong side of a 32-14 final score in Vancouver Mainland Football League action at McAdam Park on Sunday afternoon.

“We shot ourselves in the foot again,” Cowichan head coach Mike Williams said.

Damian McCuaig-Jones was a force when the Bulldogs ran the ball, getting 11 carries for 202 yards, including touchdown runs of 85 and 60 yards. McCuaig-Jones broke as many as 10 tackles on one particular first-quarter romp down the sidelines. He also got into the game on defence, making three tackles as he filled in at linebacker.

The Cowichan passing game, however, “sputtered,” in Williams’s words, although Dakota Cullum stood out with five receptions for 95 yards, and added an interception on defence. The Bulldogs were victims of three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown and the other two for short-field advantages, and also coughed up three fumbles: two on offence and one on a kick return.

The Bulldogs defence was led by Brooks Branchi, with 10 tackles and one interception, and Nicholas Young, with six tackles.

“Offensively, we did OK, but our mistakes hurt us,” Williams said. “Every time we got close, we turned the ball over. Our defence was OK at times, but missed tackles and field position gave them most of their scores.”

Williams believes his team will bounce back from the loss, as long as players show up for training this week.

“I expect us to regroup with a good week of practice,” he said. “We have 34 or 35 on our roster, but we have pratices of 20. Missing practice and showing up for games, those mistakes hurt us.”

The Bulldogs have three regular-season games left, two at home and one on the road, and should be able to hang on to a top-four spot in the five-team midget league.

“We’re still in playoff position,” Williams said. “We still have the opportunity to finish third and an outside chance at second.”

In order to succeed, Cowichan’s passing game will need to improve, which is one of Williams’s priorities going forward.

“We made 20 attempts [against Victoria], so we’re not abandoning it,” he said. “But we need to have more success.”

The Bulldogs will be back at McAdam Park this Sunday at 2:30 p.m., hosting winless North Delta.

“It’s an opportunity to refocus, regroup and have some success,” Williams said.

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