DOVE CREEK Linebacker Tyler Ebberts ran in stride with a West Grand wide receiver.
With his head up and body precisely positioned, the senior leaped and intercepted Nick Ritschards pass, thwarting the Mustangs drive.
The Bulldogs offense converted Ebberts first half turnover into eight points and a 27-12 lead in 8-man playoff action Saturday in Dove Creek.
In the fourth quarter, Ritschard hit Kiley OBrien in stride for a big gain and a possible touchdown. But Ebberts was there to make a shoestring tackle. West Grand would turn the ball over on downs and the Bulldogs tacked on another touchdown on its following drive in a 39-12 win.
Whenever West Grand seemingly seized momentum Saturday, Ebberts was there to take it back for Dove Creek.
Our defense really stepped it up today, he said. You cant think about it so hard. You just have fun. Our (defensive) line did good, and our backers stepped up and had a good game.
The senior linebacker/tight end had a game high 10 tackles to add to his team leading 78 stops on the season. With tough defense, Ebberts and the Bulldogs stymied a high-powered Mustangs spread offense.
They just beat us physically today, longtime West Grand coach Chris Brown said. They had everybody up in the box and we couldnt get out of it. We were close on a few passes, but that was it.
Ebberts and the Bulldogs are moving onto the 8-man quarterfinals at Granada (6-4) on Saturday afternoon. Its Dove Creeks first playoff win in six years.
This is the farthest Ive gone, said Ebberts about advancing in the postseason. Being a senior, this is really fun. I think well do good.
Ebberts batted down passes and recorded multiple tackles for loss. He has been huge for first-year coach Shane Baughmen, who calls the defensive plays.
I like it a lot, said Ebberts about playing for Baughman. I like how they open it up. We have a lot of fun with the plays. Theyre good coaches.
Dove Creek, No. 8, will face upset-minded 16-seed Granada. Ebberts has five interceptions on the year and a fumble recovery. The defense will have to come up big against a team that rolled up 32 points on the road in a shocking win over then No. 1 Dayspring Christian Academy (Greeley).
We just go week-by-week, said Tyler, who is the son of Samantha and Curtis Ebberts. Our D-ends were really disciplined this game and are in practice. We have fun in practice.
Kickoff between the Bulldogs and Bobcats is Saturday at 1 p.m.