Cats pull away for 34-7 win
It didn’t seem to matter who was lined up in the backfield for Bainbridge on Friday night, as the Bearcats used a dominating running game to defeat the Dothan (Ala.) Tigers, 34-7, at Centennial Field.
Five different players carried the ball, and three players lined up at quarterback for Bainbridge — Damian Bouie, Preston Norris and Cameron McDowell. Sophomore running back Tremain McCray had the biggest night for the ground game, finishing with 23 carries for 161 yards and two touchdowns.
“I don’t feel nervous,” said McCray, about playing as a sophomore. “I just put my heart into it when I’m on the field.”
Bainbridge coach Ed Pilcher said Friday night may have been the “most complete” game that the Bearcats (6-3, 2-2 in Region 1-AAAAA) have played all year.
“We played well in all three phases of the game — offense, defense and special teams,” Pilcher said. “You always want to be playing your best football toward the end of the season. I thought our offensive line did a great job of blocking for our running backs, and the defense was swarming to the ball all night long.”
Senior running back Terry Lewis finished with 15 carries for 82 yards and two touchdowns, and Bouie had 12 carries for 46 yards and a touchdown. The Bearcats’ defense held Dothan quarterback Diantae Thomas to just 5-of-15 passing for 34 yards.
Bainbridge’s defense helped the Bearcats get out to an early lead, when Thomas fumbled on a run and the Bearcats recovered at the Dothan 46-yard-line early in the first quarter. Lewis scored on a 2-yard run and Daniel Provence added the extra point to put the Bearcats ahead 7-0.
The Tigers tied the game early in the second quarter. On the first play of the drive, Thomas broke away for a 53-yard run. Three plays later, Isiah Long scored on a 1-yard run and Luis Pimental added the extra point.
Bainbridge responded on its next drive, with some help from an often-undisciplined Tiger team. Facing a fourth-and-inches from the Dothan 47, Bouie managed to draw the Tigers offside with a hard count, giving Bainbridge a first down. Two plays later, Lewis broke away for a 41-yard touchdown run, giving Bainbridge a 14-7 lead with 4:09 remaining in the first half. Lewis spun away from one tackle and then broke another shoestring tackle attempt as he pulled away for the score.
The Bearcats added another score late in the first half, thanks to a Dothan miscue. On fourth-and-15 from the Tigers’ 17, Dothan punter Traylor Griswold tried to run the ball after a low snap on a punt attempt, but was tackled at the 9. McCray eventually scored on a 1-yard run, and Provence added the extra point to put the Bearcats ahead 21-7 with 29.6 seconds left in the second quarter.
Bainbridge scored on its opening drive of the second half, putting together a methodical 11-play, 63-yard drive that culminated with a 2-yard touchdown run by Bouie. After Provence’s extra point, the Bearcats led 28-7 with 6:37 left in the third quarter.
Dothan looked like it might mount a scoring drive on its next possession, but McDowell made a key play on fourth down — tackling Trey Jackson short of the first-down yardage. Bainbridge got the ball back on its own 47 and drove down the field, but Provence’s 43-yard field goal attempt with 10:02 left in the fourth quarter was short.
The Bearcats closed out the scoring in the fourth quarter when McCray broke a few tackles on the way to a 25-yard touchdown run. Provence missed the extra point, as the Bearcats moved ahead 34-7 with 5:19 left in the game.
Bainbridge will face Lee County in its homecoming game next Friday, at 7:30 p.m., at Centennial Field. That game will also determine which of the two teams will be the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds from Region 1-AAAAA in the upcoming state playoffs. Both teams have already clinched a berth.