Keenan Phillips scores four in Bearcats’ 46-28 victory over Thomasville
Published 2:16 am Saturday, September 9, 2023
Keenan Phillips carried the Bearcats to a 46-28 victory over Thomasville with four touchdowns and more than 200 rushing yards.
Head Coach Jeff Littleton said he saw leadership on the sidelines during the win. He credited that leadership — keeping a positive mindset — and correcting errors in the second half to the Bearcat’s success.
“You’ve got to have everybody being positive,” Littleton said. “You can’t get too low when the lows are bad, and you can’t get too high when the highs are good.”
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Running backs Phillips, Travious Freeman and Javon Cox were the focus of the Bearcat offense in the first half. Bainbridge played in the wildcat formation for the entire first quarter and part of the second quarter. In wildcat formation, the running back takes the snap from the center instead of the quarterback.
The trio of senior running backs racked up 122 rushing yards in the first half, Phillips leading the pack with 85 yards on 18 carries.
The Bearcats transitioned from wildcat back to a traditional quarterback-centric offense during the second quarter, and sophomore quarterback Brook Hines got his first taste of action of the season
Phillips scored the only two touchdowns for the Bearcats in the first half. His two scores, along with an extra point from senior kicker Nicholas Tyre and an unsuccessful two-point conversion try gave the Bearcats 13 points.
The Bearcat defense held the Bulldogs to 14 points in the half and made two key plays to keep Bainbridge in the first half. Senior linebacker Don’Terrius Williams blocked a punt near the end of the second quarter, giving the Beacat’s possession on the Bulldog 32. Phillips scored the team’s second touchdown on that offensive drive.
In the ensuing defensive drive, junior wide receiver/defensive back Luke Griffin made an interception with less than 2 minutes on the clock in the first half. The INT stopped the Bulldog’s offensive effort and allowed the Bearcats to keep possession until the half ended. The score at the half: 14-13 Bulldogs.
Senior defensive back James Jackson said the halftime speech was the defining moment for the defense.
“All of us, we sat down, the coaches talked to us,” Jackson said. “We all got together and came back in as a team. We had the right mindset and came out and did our thing.”
The Bulldogs scored on their first two offensive possessions of the second half, but that’s all they could get against the Barcat defense. Junior defensive back Tashun Carter secured an interception to punctuate the defense’s performance in the half.
Senior quarterback Cam Sanders and senior wide receiver Antavious Murphy saw the field for the first time in the second half.
Sanders and Murphy connected for a completion on their first play on the field together. Sanders broke out a 20-yard scramble later in the drive and threw a 27-yard pass to junior wide receiver Camryn “Scoop” Scott to get into the Bulldog red zone. Sanders would eventually run the ball in for a touchdown.
Murphy caught two touchdowns from Sanders, and Phillips had two scores of his own in the half to give the Bearcats a final score of 46 points.
Littleton said Friday night’s experience made the team better. Sanders echoed that sentiment and said the night served as a growth opportunity for him.
“It’s helping me become a leader,” Sanders said. “I’m not a great leader yet, but I want to be that for my team. If I become a leader, If I lead like I did tonight, we’re not going to lose.”
The team has an off week next week and plays Ware County at home the week after on Friday, September 22nd. Littleton said he wants to see the team make adjustments to clean up their play in the next two weeks of practice.
“We’ve still got to work on ourselves,” Littleton said. “We’ve got to stop making so many penalties and missed assignments on both sides of the ball.”