By HARRISON HAMLET
(DRY FORK, Va.) – Turnovers have been the Achilles’ Heel for Martinsville’s football team in 2019. After leading for 45 minutes on Friday night on the road against Tunstall, the fourth turnover of the night for the Bulldogs proved most costly, as Tunstall turned it into points and a 12-7 win.
“It was a hard-fought game and we moved the ball up and down the field,” Martinsville head coach Bobby Martin said. “We just turned it over too much. We had four turnovers, three in the second half. We fumbled on the 10-yard-line and had three interceptions on their side of the field. It made for a long night.”
Tunstall intercepted a Martinsville pass with three minutes to play in the game, setting up the game-winning touchdown for the Trojans.
A Jahil Martin touchdown in the second quarter gave Martinsville a 7-0 lead, and the Bulldogs held a 7-6 lead at halftime.
A scoreless third quarter set up a dramatic finish, but it was Tunstall that made the late move, leaving Martin frustrated.
“We played hard enough and well enough to win. Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy,” Martin said. “It’s hard to come back from four turnovers. We played well on both sides of the ball. We didn’t just turn it over, we did it in scoring position. That was the frustrating part.”
Martin, Jeremiah Law and Rashaun Dickerson all gained 40 yards in a balanced offensive attack for the Bulldogs, who held an explosive Tunstall offense under 220 yards.
After a bye week, Martin hoped his Bulldogs would return to the field healthy. Unfortunately that was not the case.
“We thought the bye week helped us with injuries, but a couple of guys who had made some progress got hurt again in just a few plays at full speed,” Martin said. “We didn’t lose any more players, but our guys who we thought could come back and play the whole game couldn’t. But, they all played hard. We played hard.”
Martinsville (0-9) will finish their season hosting G.W.-Danville (6-3) on Friday night.
“We’re going to do the same thing we’ve been doing. We have to see who we have healthy and get enough guys out there to compete,” Martin said, ruing the injuries that have derailed his first season at the helm of the Bulldogs’ program.
Martin also noted that a Piedmont District schedule is no cake-walk, with Magna Vista, G.W.-Danville, Halifax County, Bassett, Franklin County and Patrick County all playoff-bound. Martinsville’s non-district schedule included a trip to Galax, as well, a perennial power.
“G.W. has a really good team, but we’ve played some really good teams this year like Magna Vista and Galax. Every team we have played is a playoff team except Tunstall,” Martin said. “That is a heck of a schedule to play when you’re trying to get better. We have to play hard and play together on Friday and see what happens.”