Bearcats win shootout

Published 12:14 am Saturday, November 10, 2012

Bainbridge’s Bearcats saw a 35-point lead evaporate in the second half, but made some key stops down the stretch to take a 49-42 victory over the visiting Lee County Trojans on homecoming night Friday.

Bainbridge (7-3, 3-2 in Region 1-AAAAA) finished in third place in region play, and will travel for the first round of the Class AAAAA playoffs next Friday. As of press time, the Bearcats’ opponent was not yet determined.

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On Friday night, the Bearcats led 42-7 with 3:06 left in the second quarter and appeared headed for an easy victory. But Lee County (7-3, 2-3) scored a touchdown with just 0.4 seconds left in the second quarter, and continued to pour on the offense in the second half. Lee County’s Stephen Collier hit J.Q. Quimbley with a 16-yard touchdown reception with 8:59 remaining in the fourth quarter, and Collier ran for the two-point conversion to complete the comeback and tie the game at 42-42.

But Bainbridge had an answer on its next possession, driving 58 yards in eight plays. The game-winning score came with 5:03 remaining, when quarterback Damian Bouie pitched the ball out to running back Michael Stubbs, who rushed down the right sideline for a 33-yard touchdown. Daniel Provence’s seventh extra point of the night put the Bearcats back ahead, 49-42.

Lee County had two more possessions late in the game, but the Bearcats’ defense was able to hold. Rod Warren sacked Collier for a 9-yard loss and forced a Lee County punt with 3:55 left in the game, but Bainbridge eventually turned the ball back over on downs with 2:05 remaining.

The Trojans had no timeouts left, when Collier was sacked by Jamez Harris for a 9-yard loss on first-and-10 from the Lee County 32 with about a minute left. Collier completed a short pass and advanced the ball to the Lee County 43, to set up a third-and-8 with 55 seconds remaining. But Collier misfired on his last two passes, with Marshall Mack applying pressure on the fourth-down attempt, and the Trojans turned it over on downs. The Bearcats were able to kneel out the clock to preserve the victory.

“It was really a tale of two halves,” Bainbridge coach Ed Pilcher said. “They turned the ball over a few times in the first half and we used that to make our big lead, but then we turned the ball over in the second half and allowed them to come back a little.

“I think that maybe we were playing a little too cautious in the second half. We were playing not to lose. But we were able to make a play there at the end when we needed to.”

Collier finished 22-of-40 passing for 348 yards and five touchdowns, but also threw an interception. Bainbridge’s touchdowns all came in the rushing game — Stubbs had one, Bouie had three, Cameron McDowell scored two and Tremain McCray scored one.

Bouie finished with 23 carries for 253 yards, and touchdowns of 41, 56 and 76 yards.

Bainbridge opened the scoring with 7:06 left in the first quarter when McDowell scored on a 46-yard run. On Lee County’s next possession, the Trojans fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Harris at the Lee County 41. On the very next play, Bouie broke free for a 41-yard touchdown to put Bainbridge ahead 14-0 with 5:26 left in the first quarter.

The Bearcats’ defense set up the next touchdown as well, when McDowell intercepted a Collier pass and returned it 28 yards to the Lee County 24. McCray eventually scored on an 11-yard run with 1:20 left in the first, putting Bainbridge ahead 21-0.

McDowell scored on a 4-yard run with 8:42 left in the second quarter, before the Trojans got on the board for the first time. Collier hit Kenneth Hurley for a 39-yard touchdown reception with 6:02 left in the second quarter, cutting the Bearcats’ lead to 28-7. But Bainbridge quickly responded yet again, as Bouie rushed for a 56-yard touchdown run on the first play of the ensuing drive, putting Bainbridge ahead 35-7 with 5:40 left in the second quarter.

Bouie added a 76-yard touchdown run with 3:06 left in the second quarter, increasing Bainbridge’s lead to 42-7.

Harris said the Bearcats were able to “stick with it” to pull out the hard-fought victory Friday.

“We just stuck with our game even when they were starting to come back,” he said. “We were able to make some stops on defense and hang on for the win.”

McDowell said he and his teammates were anxious to get the playoffs started, regardless of who their opponent might be.

“We’re ready to play right now,” he said. “We’re playing well and we’re excited about the challenge.”