Cats can’t overcome 5 turnovers in loss

Published 12:47 am Saturday, August 25, 2012

BAINBRIDGE SENIOR RUNNING BACK Damian Bouie stiff arms East Gadsden’s Jamaul Vickers on the way to a gain Friday night. The Jaguars defeated the Bearcats in Bainbridge’s home opener, 33-14. | Jeff Findley

The Bainbridge Bearcats had five turnovers, and their opponent had none, as Bainbridge lost its opening game of the season at Centennial Field on Friday night, falling 33-14 to the East Gadsden (Fla.) Jaguars.

“Obviously the turnovers really hurt us,” Bainbridge coach Ed Pilcher said. “We’ve got to move forward and get a lot better.”

East Gadsden’s offense used a stout aerial attack to subdue the Bearcats. Jaguar quarterback Treveze Robinson was 17-of-25 for 268 passing yards and three touchdowns. His favorite target was Janorriss Cunningham, who finished with eight receptions for 143 yards and two touchdowns.

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“A lot of the success of their passing game was just because they had two great athletes that were on the same page,” Pilcher said. “We tried everything we could on defense, but their quarterback and wide receiver just kept making plays. You have to give a lot of credit to East Gadsden; they have a great team and we knew we would have our hands full.”

Bainbridge’s rushing attack was effective, but fumbles kept the Bearcats from maintaining any momentum or rhythm. Senior running back Terry Lewis had 13 carries for 138 yards, and his classmate Damian Bouie had 10 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown.

It didn’t take long for the turnover bug to bite the Bearcats. Bainbridge’s Cameron McDowell returned the opening kickoff from the Bainbridge 6 to the East Gadsden 11. But on the very first play from scrimmage, the Bearcats fumbled and East Gadsden recovered.

“That could have been huge for us to have gotten a score down there early,” Pilcher said.

Bainbridge still broke onto the scoreboard first, when Preston Norris scored on a 24-yard touchdown run with 5:26 left in the first quarter. Norris faked a handoff and then ran to the left, when he was hit by Jaguar defenders. Although the junior quarterback was knocked down slightly, he managed to keep his balance and spun away before breaking off the long run. Daniel Provence’s extra point gave the Bearcats a 7-0 lead.

East Gadsden tied the game on the first play of the second quarter, when Robinson connected with Cunningham for a 7-yard touchdown reception. Pedro Popoca added the extra point and the teams were tied with 11:54 left in the second quarter.

However, Bainbridge responded on its next drive, going 80 yards in eight plays. Bouie scored with a 7-yard run and Provence added the extra point to put the Bearcats ahead 14-7 with 8:09 left in the second quarter. A key play in the drive was a 37-yard run by Lewis.

However, that would be all the scoring the Bearcats would manage in the rest of the game. East Gadsden scored three more touchdowns in the second quarter, but missed an extra point and two-point conversion, as the Jaguars went into halftime with a 26-14 lead.

The score was still 26-14 late in the third quarter, when it looked as if Bainbridge might mount a comeback. The Bearcats began a drive on the East Gadsden 49 and eventually drove to the 21 with a little more than a minute remaining in the third quarter.

However, that run to the 21 was wiped out by a holding penalty that moved the ball back to the East Gadsden 31. On the next play, the Bearcats fumbled and the Jaguars got the ball back.

The Jaguars put the game away in the fourth quarter with a methodical drive that started with 6:36 left and ended with 53.6 seconds remaining in the game. Robinson hit Cunningham with a 15-yard touchdown pass to close out the scoring for the Jaguars.

Bainbridge has an off week next Friday, and will return to the field Friday, Sept. 7, when they host their non-region rival, the Cairo Syrupmakers.

“It’s always tough to lose a game, and it will hurt us for a while,” Pilcher said. “But we can still accomplish our goals of making the playoffs and having a winning season. We’ve got to get ready to refocus over these next two weeks and get ready for a tough opponent, in Cairo.”