Bainbridge comes out on top 14-7 in standoff with Sandy Creek

Published 12:43 am Saturday, November 21, 2015


Tight end Russell Wheeler stands up with the ball is in hand for the winning touchdown catch in overtime during Bainbidge’s game against Sandy Creek. — Jessica Cannon

Bainbridge coach Jeff Littleton called the Bearcats’ game against Sandy Creek on Friday “the next step.”

With the game tied 7-7 in first overtime, senior tight end Russell Wheeler caught a 14-yard pass from quarterback Brett McLaughlin to put the Bearcats up 14-7.

The Bainbridge defense then held Sandy Creek (9-3) to six plays and no score for the win and their first 12-0 season start.

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“I came off the ball, and it was supposed to be a fake, but I didn’t have anybody to fake to,” Wheeler said. “I came off the linebacker and he stayed in front of me, but I saw the ball go in the air and I knew I had to make the catch, and I got back in front of him, dove, and the ball was in my hands. It was the hardest fought game of my life.”

Littleton said that last year’s Region Play-in win against Thomas County Central was the first step to getting the Bainbridge program over a hump. This win was the second step.

“(They have) three state championships in the last six years, going for an eighth 10-plus win season,” Littleton said about the Patriots. “This was another next step. That was our motto—the next step. And we dad-gum passed it.”

Both defenses held each team to zero points in the first half, with multiple stops in the red zone. The Patriot running back duo of Jaelon Green and Marvin Hubbard rushed for 138 total yards, and were difficult for the Bearcats to stop on the first couple series.

“We had to tell the ends to smash down,” junior linebacker Dalvin Spivie said. “Coach Littleton came to us and said, ‘Let’s eat.’ When he told us that, he had the linebackers blitzing.”

Sophomore running back Dameon Pierce had 87 yards rushing on 25 carries.

McLaughlin was 5-for-16 passing with 41 passing yards and two interceptions. He was also responsible for a rushing touchdown and the game-winning pass. Halfway through the third quarter, Bainbridge put together a 61-yard drive that finished with a 1-yard QB sneak by McLaughlin for the score and an extra point from kicker Blake Green.

Sandy Creek immediately answered with their own touchdown drive that finished with a 1-yard dive over the offensive line by Hubbard to tie the game at 7-7.

A power outage caused by a car wreck hitting a utility pole on Shotwell Street blacked out Centennial Field for half an hour.

“I didn’t want this to be my last time on the field,” senior defensive tackle Calvin Isom said. “We just had to fight. Everybody did their jobs.”

Littleton said the hard-fought win wasn’t a result of a specific game plan. It’s the same story it has been all year: practice hard, play hard.

“They’re going to play, because they practice hard,” Littleton said. “And when you practice hard, you’re going to show up on Friday night, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Bainbridge will return to Centennial Field next Friday to host St. Pius X (10-2) for a 7:30 p.m. kick off. Because Bainbridge and St. Pius X were both No. 1 seeds in the playoff bracket, a coin flip by the Georgia High School Association determined which team would host.