Cats defeat Cairo, 17-14

Published 11:32 pm Friday, September 7, 2012

Damian Bouie rushes in for a 6-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run that gave Bainbridge a 14-14 tie against Cairo on Friday, as teammate Terry Lewis signals touchdown. The Bearcats would go on to win, 17-14.|Brennan Leathers

Bainbridge’s Daniel Provence hit a 30-yard field goal with 6.9 seconds remaining, as the Bearcats defeated rival Cairo by a score of 17-14 Friday night at Centennial Field.

“It felt pretty good coming off my foot,” said the junior Provence, who also had a field goal in Bainbridge’s 17-14 win at Cairo in 2011. “I wasn’t thinking about too much, I just looked up to the sky and knew that God had my back.”

Provence’s kick completed a late comeback, as Bainbridge (1-1) was trailing 14-7 at the start of the fourth quarter. The Bearcats tied the game with 5:21 left on a 6-yard run by Damian Bouie and Provence’s extra point.

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The game-tying drive was set up by a strong punt return by Cameron McDowell, who returned a punt from the Bainbridge 40 to the Cairo 12. McDowell had another strong return to set up the game-winning drive later in the quarter, when he returned a punt from the Bainbridge 26 to the Cairo 43 with 2:49 left.

“I was just trying to make a play where I could,” said McDowell, a senior who missed much of the 2011 season. “It was important to get this win, because they beat us at Centennial Field two years ago.”

On the first play of the game-winning drive, quarterback Preston Norris made a pair of key pass receptions, despite attempting just four passes all game. He found Madison Malone open for a 20-yard reception on second-and-11, moving the ball to the Cairo 24.

Later in the drive, on a third-and-11, Norris completed a short pass out to Greg Cooper, who made several defenders miss and moved the ball to the 13-yard-line, cutting the yardage to fourth-and-2 with 6.9 seconds left.

Cairo (1-1) called its last timeout to try and ice Provence, but he nailed the field goal. The Syrupmakers tried to return the ensuing kickoff, but were tackled at their own 43-yard-line as time expired.

“We knew that eventually we’d have to pass the ball a bit,” said Bainbridge coach Ed Pilcher, whose team did not attempt a pass in the first half. “[Offensive coordinator Leonard] Guyton made some great calls there late in the game to get us close for the field goal.”

Bainbridge took an early lead in the first quarter, when Terry Lewis ran for a 2-yard touchdown and Provence added the extra point with 8:47 left. However, poor special teams play doomed the Bearcats and allowed the Syrupmakers to tie the game.

With 26 seconds left in the first quarter, Cairo blocked a punt from Paul Soden, giving the Syrupmakers strong field position at the Bainbridge 34.

Six plays later, a Jeremiah Hill 1-yard touchdown run tied the game. Cairo blocked another Bainbridge punt in the second quarter, recovering it at the Bainbridge 2 — but on the very next play the Syrupmakers fumbled the ball and Bainbridge recovered.

“We had two blocked punts, but we also had two great punt returns,” Pilcher said. “I guess you can say things evened out.”

Cairo’s only lead of the game came with 7:40 left in the third quarter, when quarterback Donald Thomas hit Reese Wooten for a 40-yard touchdown reception. Thomas finished the game 8-of-15 for 127 yards.

“Their little quarterback did a good job for them,” Pilcher said. “We were able to turn up the defensive pressure a bit in the fourth quarter, and that helped make the difference.”

Bainbridge will travel to face Early County next Friday, Sept. 14, at 8 p.m.