Remembering 1982: Bearcats defeat Early County to secure Playoff Spot

Published 11:09 am Wednesday, October 26, 2022

By Joe Crine

Fullbacks Calvin Close and Scott Carroll scored two touchdowns a piece at Centennial Field Friday night to lead coach Ralph Jones’ Bainbridge High School Bearcats past the Early County High School Bobcats 48-0 and into the Region 1AAA playoffs. 

The Bearcat’s win over the Bobcats coupled with the Mitchell-Baker High School Eagles’ 44-29 win over the Cairo High School Syrupmakers in Cairo Friday night placed the Bearcats in the playoffs as the Region 1AAA west sub-region runner up. The Eagles are the sub-region champions. 

It took the Bearcats only three plays to march 56 yards for a touchdown the first time they got their hands on the football Friday night. 

Tailback Reginald Butler set the drive up when he returned a Bobcat punt from his own 25-yard-line to his own 44-yard-line. Close took a pitch from Walden on first down and went off the right side for 13 yards and a first down at the Bobcats 43. Close then slanted right for 10 to the 33 before an offside penalty against the Bobcats moved the pigskin to the 28. Walden then dropped back and saw Close breaking open at the four. He hit him in stride with a pass and he rambled on in to score. Tim Flanders’ extra point attempt was wide to the right and with 10:56 still remaining on the first quarter clock the Bearcats were on top 6-0. 

Close culminated a nine-play 73-yard drive when he dove into the end zone to score from one yard out with 2:33 left in the second quarter. 

The Bearcats took over the ball at their own 27-yard-line after a fourth down gamble by the Bobcats failed to pick up a first down. Facing a fourth down and 15-yards to go situation at the Bainbridge 38, Bobcat quarterback Woody Warr lined up in deep punt formation. He never got the ball, however, as the snap came to fullback Arelious Haynes who was lined up as a blocking back. 

Haynes slanted off the right side for 11 to the 27 where cornerback Tim Flanders bumped him out of bounds four yards short of the first down. Close took a pitch from Walden and exploded around the right side for eight to the 35 then ran right to the 45 where he cut sharply back to his left and rambled all the way to the Bobcat 30. The 35-yard scamper was nullified however, when the Bobcats were detected for clipping. The markoff set them back to their own 31. 

Close got the Bearcats deep into Bobcat territory later in the second drive when he rambled for 36 yards from the 36 to the three. Carroll slanted right for two to the one before Close dove into score. Walden tried to throw to tight end Todd Mills for a two-point conversion but it fell incomplete at the score remained 12-0. 

The Bearcats drove 54 yards in five plays to score on a four-yard run by Carroll with 1:53 showing on the second quarter clock. They took over when cornerback Phillip Bryant fair caught a Bobcat punt at his own 46. 

Close powered off the right side for five to the 49 of Early County before Carroll got the call and drove up the middle for 24 and a first down at the 25. Close slanted left for two to the 23 then Carroll got the call again. He started to his right, cut back up the middle and bullied his way for a 19-yard gain and a first down at the four. On the next play he slanted left to score.

Walden threw to Mills in the right corner of the end zone for a two point conversion enabling the Bearcats to walk off the field with a 20-0 halftime advantage. 

Carroll scored his second touchdown of the night with 7:12 remaining in the third quarter when he bullied off his right side to score from three yards away. The score culminated a six-play, 52-yard drive. Carroll helped set up the score with three consecutive long gains, going up from his own 48 to the Early 53, slanting right up for 13 to the 20 and going up the middle again for eight to the 12. 

After Close slanted left for four to the eight, Carroll went up the middle again for five to the three setting the stage for the score. 

Flanders came in to boot the point after touchdown through the uprights and gave the Bearcats a 27-0 advantage. 

Flanders culminated a seven-play 92-yard drive late in the third quarter when he took a pitch with the line of scrimmage at the Bobcat 47, started around the right side, cut sharply back to his left at the 40 and raced in to score. The 47-yard touchdown scamper by the Bearcat senior tailback came in with 1:01 left in the third quarter. Eddie Boyd’s extra point kick advanced the homesteading ‘Cats lead to 34-0. 

Early in the fourth quarter Bearcat defensive tackle Ed Guy recovered an errant Bobcat pitchout at the Early County 26-yard-line. Quarterback Warr tried to pitch to fullback Haynes off the left side but the Bobcat fullback never got control of the pigskin. It bounced off his hands as a swarm of Bearcat defenders dove for it. When the official unstacked the pile Guy came up with the football.

An encroachment penalty against the Bobcats moved the ball five yards further down the field to the 21. Quarterback Michael Stubbs threw an incompletion intended for tight end Calvin Mills before optioning off the left side and pitching to wingback Greg Malone who took it in to score.

Boyd again booted the point after touchdown and with 11:07 remaining in the game the Bearcats were on top 41-0.

Cornerback Patrick Clark set up the Bearcat’s final touchdown of the night when he intercepted a Warr pass at his own 45 and returned it to the Early County 44 with 8:51 showing on the clock.

The Bearcats tried their own right side on the first two plays off the drive. On first down fullback Jerome Roddy picked up four to the 40 and on second down fullback Eddie Boyd got 11 and a first down at the 29.

Boyd slanted left for no gain before tailback Reginald Butler took a pitch and scampered around the right side for 14 and a first down at the 15. Roddy slanted right for nine and a half to the five and half then Boyd slanted right to score. Boyd also added the extra point and with 6:11 remaining in the game the final score of Bearcats 48, Bobcats 0, was on the board.