Bearcats fall to Cairo in mistake-filled game
Published 11:47 pm Friday, September 9, 2016
Dropped passes and a loose defensive secondary clouded the Bainbridge Bearcats Friday night at Centennial Field as the Cairo Syrupmakers grinded their way to a 17-14 win.
Bainbridge (0-2) was down 17-7 with just under three minutes left in the game when quarterback Brett McLaughlin found Alex McGivern in the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown pass, pushing the score to 17-14.
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The Syrupmakers (2-1) ran down the clock on the next drive, ultimately failing to get a first down on a fourth-and-five play. Bainbridge was able to get off two plays, back to back passes caught by Dameon Pierce and Aaron Spivie, before looking at a mere 6 seconds on the clock and 33 yards to the end zone.
McLaughlin passed to McGivern cutting across midfield, but the pass was broken up by Cairo as the clock hit zero.
“We fought to the very end,” Bainbridge coach Jeff Littleton said. “We never once gave up. We were down two scores just about the entire second half there. We fought and we gave ourselves a chance to win in the fourth quarter and at the end of the game, even though we made a bunch of mistakes. So I’m proud of the team for that.”
Dameon Pierce made his big return after missing the first game of the season with an ankle sprain. He rushed for 117 yards on 15 carries and scored a touchdown.
Pierce’s score came right on the heels of the Syrupmakers’ first touchdown, a 13-yard pass from Cairo quarterback John Michael Owens (24-of-40, 250 yards passing, 2 touchdowns). On his first touch of the game, Pierce found a hole and blasted downfield for an 80-yard touchdown to tie it up 7-7.
“That’s just great fundamental blocking by the O-line,” Pierce said. “I didn’t do anything but just run straight. That’s what they’ve got me at running back for. Big thanks to the O-line and the wide receivers for springing me for that touchdown.”
Pierce said he was proud of his team’s performance, but the loss was a learning experience.
Cairo hit a 49-yard field goal with a minute left in the first quarter to pull away 10-7, and the Syrupmakers didn’t relinquish the lead for the rest of the night. Their final touchdown came on a 43-yard pass from Owens to Jaylon Jones.
McLaughlin was 11-for-22 with 171 passing yards. The senior quarterback had no trouble hitting open receivers, but dropped passes kept Bainbridge from gaining the momentum they needed to grab a lead.
“We’ve just got to get better at catching the football and fundamentals,” McLaughlin said.
Cairo had 408 yards of total offense on the Bearcats.
“I feel like the defense played well,” defensive end Devin Morris said.
Littleton said Bainbridge’s errors were early season mistakes.
“We had a lot of dropped passes,” Littleton said. “We had some penalties. We had some coaching errors. We had some player errors. It was little bit of both.”
Bainbridge travels to Blakely next Friday to play the Early County Bobcats. Kickoff is 8 p.m.