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Bearcats clinch playoff spot

Terry Lewis runs for a long gain in Bainbridge's 60-41 win over Lee County on Friday. The victory assured the Bearcats of a spot in the Class AAAA playoffs.|Jeff Findley


LEESBURG, Ga. — With its playoff future potentially in the balance, the Bearcats trailed by eight points at halfitme at Lee County. But Bainbridge put together an offensive surge to finish the game, and came away with a 60-41 win over the Trojans on Friday.
The victory assured the Bearcats (7-2, 4-2 in Region 1-AAAA) of finishing no lower than fourth place in the region. Bainbridge and Thomas County Central will play next Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at Centennial Field in the final regular-season game.
With 9:45 left in the first quarter Friday, Bainbridge running back Terry Lewis ran in from 5 yards out to put the Bearcats up 7-0. On the previous play, defensive tackle Shammai Wilburn intercepted a screen pass by Lee County’s Matt Mears and returned it 64 yards, from the Bainbridge 31 to the Lee County 5.
On Lee County’s next drive, a couple of long passes by Mears took the Trojans to the Bearcats’ 5-yard-line. Strong defensive play by safety Rodney Glenn and the Bearcats’ defense held the Trojans to settling for a 22-yard field goal with 7:05 left in the first.
With 4:08 left in the first, tight end Bernard Burke caught a 14-yard pass from Fortson for a touchdown. However, Daniel Provence’s extra point attempt was blocked, leaving the score at 13-3 in Bainbridge’s favor.
Key plays in the nine-play, 67-yard drive included a 28-yard quarterback keeper by Quincy Fortson, a 12-yard run by Lewis and runs of 10 yards and 5 yards by Damian Bouie.
Bainbridge senior defensive tackle Tarow Barney later recovered a fumble around the Lee County 35.
With 3:26 left in the first quarter, Lewis rushed 32 yards into the end zone. Provence’s extra-point attempt missed wide left, to make the score 19-3.
With about 9:40 left in the second quarter, the Trojans punted and the Bearcats had a short return. But referees called a holding penalty against the Bearcats on the punt play, giving the Trojans a first down and new life on their drive.
After what appeared to be a minor post-play scuffle, a personal foul was called against the Bearcats. Bainbridge’s Shammai Wilburn was ejected from the game. The ball was moved to the Bainbridge 13.
On the next play, Lee County’s Brandon Paden caught a Mears pass for a touchdown with 8:54 left in the second quarter. The two-point conversion was good, making the score 19-11 in the Bearcats’ favor.
On the ensuing kickoff, Bainbridge’s Greg Cooper returned the ball 75 yards for a touchdown with 8:41 left in the second, to make the score 26-11.
With 7:17 left in the first half, Lee County’s Andrew Stroud escaped Bearcat tackles to run 40 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion was good, to make the score 26-19.
With 1:27 left in the half, Mears kept it himself and ran in 9 yards for a touchdown. A two-point conversion made the score 27-26 in the Trojans’ favor.
With 18 seconds left, the Trojans blocked a punt by Paul Soden. Soden tried to kick the ball out of the end zone for a safety, but the Trojans picked it up for a touchdown, to make the score 34-26.
With 11:16 left in the third quarter, Bainbridge safety Dontavious Baulkman blocked a Lee County punt and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown. Provence’s extra point attempt was good, to narrow the score to 34-31 in favor of the Trojans.
On Lee County’s next drive, Bainbridge’s George Clemmons blocked the Trojans’ punt and Bainbridge took over possession at the Lee County 31-yard-line. Fortson rushed forward from the 16 to the 5. But Bouie fumbled and the Trojans recovered at their own 5.
With 8:30 left in the third quarter, Bainbridge junior defensive player Devin Hubbard sustained an injury that required an ambulance to come onto the field and take him away for treatment.
On a fourth-and-2 from the Lee County 35, with a little over two minutes left in the third, the Bearcats went for it but turned the ball over on downs. A pass breakup by Cameron McDowell, a sack by Marshall Mack and another pass breakup gave the ball back to the Bearcats with 1:04 left in the third.
Lewis had a 20-yard run in the next drive, and an 8-yard run for a first down. The Bearcats continued to drive into the fourth quarter, and with 10:48 left in the game, Fortson kept the ball and ran 18 yards into the end zone. The Bearcats tried a two-point conversion; Rodney Glenn caught a pass in the end zone but he was ruled out of bounds, leaving the score at 39-34 in Bainbridge’s favor.
With 9:55 left in the game, Bainbridge linebacker Jamez Harris intercepted a Mears pass and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown. Provence’s extra point kick made it 46-34.
With 8:54 left, the Trojans’ Josh Cabrera caught a 31-yard pass from Mears to make it 46-41 in Bainbridge’s favor.
Cooper returned the kickoff to the 50-yard-line and the Bearcats drove to the Lee Co. 44. However, a Bearcat fumble gave the ball back to Lee County.
Bainbridge linebacker Javen Sanders sacked the Trojans’ backup quarterback after he bobbled the snap. Then on the next play, Bainbridge’s George Clemmons intercepted the ball and took it to the Lee County 33.
With 5:52 remaining, Bouie scrambled 38 yards for a touchdown to make the score 53-41 in Bainbridge’s favor.
On a fourth-and-1 from the Bainbridge 46, the Trojans threw an incomplete pass and the Bearcats took over possession with 4:08 to go.
On a fourth-and-4, Bainbridge’s Emmanuel Lewis ran 15 yards for a touchdown with 40.8 seconds left, making the final score, 60-41.