WELLINGTON — Markkel Bradley felt the sting that accompanies carrying the football 28 times.
But after seeing the crestfallen Ulysses players in the postgame hand-shake line after he ground out 169 yards and two touchdowns in Wellington's 21-0 shutout Tuesday night, Bradley had a burst of energy.
That surge helped him climb the victory bell in Wellington's north end zone and give two clanging rings.
"It felt great going up there and being able to do that," Bradley said. "Watching the other players, as we shook hands, watching the tears fall down made me realize that could have been us."
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Wellington made the first — and only — big play and will advance to the Class 4A second round, hosting undefeated Andale on Saturday.
Both defenses proved stingy in the first half — each team had two drives end without points in opponent territory — and it looked like Wellington would concede the scoreless half by running the clock out.
Two runs from Bradley and a first down altered that. The next play, Drake Koerner found Jordan Edwards for a 41-yard gain to the Ulysses 14 with 22 seconds remaining.
Wellington coach Linn Hibbs opted to save his final timeout and had Edwards switch with Koerner at quarterback. Edwards took a quick drop and lofted a perfect fade pass to his twin brother Jeremy in the end zone for a touchdown with 14 seconds left in the half.
"That play that I caught the ball, Drake's better at throwing that ball than I am," Edwards explained.
Then Koerner expanded on the switch: "I'm kind of short, so I can't really do the three-step all that well and he does."
Working from behind, Ulysses' misdirection running game floundered. The Tigers were 0 for 9 on third downs in the game and picked up only one first down the second half.
Credit that to the linemen from Wellington. The line of scrimmage was Wellington's in the second half, proven by no negative runs from Bradley and 125 rushing yards.
"We have gotten a lot better and progressed over the season," lineman Tyler Rayl said. "Our blocking has really improved pulling-wise."
The rest was left up to Bradley.
"Whenever my number is called, I do whatever I can do," he said. "It actually starts at the line. I can't do nothing when the line doesn't do anything."
Ulysses (5-5) 0 0 0 0 — 0 Wellington (7-3) 0 7 6 8 — 21
W—Je. Edwards 14 pass from Jo. Edwards (Collins kick)
W—Bradley 6 run (kick missed)
W—Bradley 5 run (Bradley run)
Rushing—Ulysses, Jarnagin 9-40, Sandoval 6-35, Moral 7-26, Rodriguez 5-7, Ungles 2-3. Wellington, Bradley 28-169, Mirt 5-12, Jo. Edwards 4-12, Koerner 6-(-19).
Passing—Ulysses, Langston 1-1-34-0, Moral 2-9-29-2. Wellington, Koerner 3-6-54-0, Jo. Edwards 4-6-43-1.
Receiving—Ulysses, Simpson 1-34, Cauldin 1-15, Ungles 1-14. Wellington, Jo. Edwards 2-52, Je. Edwards 3-33, Anderson 1-10, Bradley 1-2.