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Bainbridge controls both sides of ball to win first round of playoffs

For the third year in a row, Bainbridge has advanced to the second round of the playoffs under head coach Jeff Littleton.

That’s a credit to the kids, particularly the seniors, Littleton said.

Friday night, the Bearcats (8-3) battled through the cold to beat New Hampstead 48-6 at Centennial Field. It will likely be the last time Bainbridge plays in their stadium this postseason, as Starr’s Mill (1 seed, Region 3-AAAAA) beat Dutchtown in a close 31-28 decision and will host the second round of the playoffs.

It doesn’t take any sweetness away from Bainbridge’s win, though.

“We played really, really hard on both sides of the football,” Littleton said. “I’m proud of that.”

Bainbridge forced four turnovers, three of them in the air, to keep the Phoenix stalling on offense.

On New Hampstead’s first drive, quarterback Jalen de la Fuente threw on fourth and 9 in the red zone and had his pass intercepted by Randy Fillingame, who returned it 102 yards for a pick-6.

Fillingame praised the blocks he got from his teammates, who turned around on a dime and helped push him into open field to outrun the Phoenix’s would-be tacklers.

“(The quarterback) was getting pressured,” Fillingame said. “A teammate made him throw it. I guess he just threw it up and I took it. Right place at the right time. But it’s all about teamwork.”

Markel Broadnax ran in Bainbridge’s first touchdown after he and fellow running back Rashad Broadnax led a rushing attack from their own 39-yard line. It was 14-0 after the pick-6.

Caleb McDowell picked another pass from Fuente in the second quarter and set up another score for Broadnax, who finished the night with 69 yards on 14 carries.

On New Hampstead’s final drive in the first half, Tre Storey recovered a fumble and took it 51 yards to the house, making it 28-0.

The Phoenix couldn’t get the ball rolling until it was too late.

“I was really happy with both sides of the ball, especially on defense keeping that quarterback bottled up,” Littleton said. “He can run around pretty well, and the running back can as well.”

Dameon Pierce, who sat out for the majority of the first half, handled Bainbridge’s final three touchdowns of the night. He finished with 111 yards on 15 carries.

New Hampstead’s touchdown came with 5:45 left in the game and Bainbridge backup players in.

Fuente was pressured on the 2-point conversion pass and it fell incomplete in the end zone.

Bainbridge will kick off against Starr’s Mill (10-1) at 7:30 p.m. next Friday in Fayettville.