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Bearcats help in all-star win

With three Bainbridge High School Bearcats making contributions, top senior players from Southwest Georgia defeated top senior players from Florida’s Big Bend 35-3 in Saturday’s first Georgia-Florida Border Wars Senior Bowl football game.

Bearcat Ben Reynolds started and played most of the day at right guard in the game, sponsored by “The Zone” High School Sports Magazine and played at Thomas County Central High School’s Jackets’ Nest Stadium. They plan to make the game an annual event.

Senior Bearcats seeing defensive duty for Southwest Georgia were linebacker Brian Hughes and safety Eric Henry,

After the game, the entire Georgia defense was named Georgia’s defensive players of the game. Tight end Tyler Knight of the Lee County High School Trojans, who caught several passes, was named Georgia’s most valuable offensive player.

Alex Jones of Tallahassee’s Chiles High School gave Florida a 3-0 lead when he kicked a 47-yard field goal with 12:35 left in the first quarter. Florida led 3-0 at halftime. Jones, along with punter and Chiles teammate Sean Poole, were named Florida’s co-most valuable offensive players.

Florida’s most valuable defensive player was Madison County High School linebacker Quanta Barfield.

Georgia went ahead to stay 7-3 with 5:44 left in the third quarter when quarterback Taylor Payne of the Thomas County Central High School Yellow Jackets ran 12 yards on an option around the right side for a touchdown and Collin Enfinger of Westwood High School kicked the extra point.

They increased the advantage to 14-3 when running back Jamarcez Carr of the Thomasville High School Bulldogs picked up a fumble and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown with 4:04 left in the third quarter and Enfinger kicked the extra point.

Payne threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Thomas County Central High School teammate Shawn Bryant with 6:06 left in the fourth quarter and Enfinger again added the extra point to put Southwest Georgia ahead 21-3.

There were no kickoffs in the game and punters and place kickers were not allowed to be rushed. They also played 15-minute quarters like in the college game as opposed to the 12-minute high school quarters. Each team got the ball on their own 20-yard-line following scores by their opponent.

Following the Payne-to-Bryant touchdown connection, defensive back Todd Lawson of Turner County High School picked up a Florida fumble and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown with 5:57 left in the game. Enfinger kicked the extra point to increase the Georgia lead to 28-3.

The final Georgia touchdown of the day came on a 15-yard interception return by linebacker De’nAurius Hayes of Turner County High School with 3;00 left in the game. Enfinger again kicked the extra point.

After the game, Bearcats Reynolds, Hughes and Henry said playing in the Georgia Florida Border Wars Senior Bowl was a great experience.

“We practiced Wednesday and Thursday at Pelham High School and Friday here at Central,” Hughes said. The practices were hard but not as hard as what [BHS] Coach Ed Pilcher put us through,” Reynolds added.