All eyes were on Bulldog Bowl Friday night as the top-ranked Class 5A Artesia Bulldogs hosted 6A No. 1 Cleveland. And in the end, it was the ‘Dogs who had the final word — one with a bark on it.
The boys in orange came out on a mission, and they accomplished it before a raucous home crowd at their home stomping grounds, making a statement out of the gate by forcing a Storm three and out before going up 8-0 on a 10-play, 61-yard drive and two-point conversion run. After the Orange Crush forced another punt on Cleveland’s second series, Artesia was well on its way to a two-touchdown lead before a big pick six instead set up the see-saw battle that would continue from there.
The Bulldogs would punch in their second TD from the one four minutes into the second that was answered just under two minutes later by Cleveland after a big kick return into Artesia territory. But the ‘Dogs were able to take an eight-point lead in at the half on a 20-yard touchdown pass with under a minute to go in the second.
The two squads spent the third quarter trading touchdowns until, with Artesia up 36-34 in the fourth, a turnover on downs gave Cleveland a chance to take their first lead. A clutch interception, however, gave the ball back to the ‘Dogs, who reached first and goal at the five before opting to run all but one minute off the clock before turning the ball back over to the Storm at their own 11.
From there, it was up to the Crush, and they rose to the occasion, forcing a TOD with 31 seconds before running out the clock as the party began.
With the win, the Bulldogs improved to 5-0 on the season while Cleveland dropped to 3-2. Artesia will host Lovington Friday in the 2023 Homecoming Game.