Bearcats advance to second round of playoffs with win over Trinity Christian

Published 6:32 pm Saturday, November 11, 2023

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The Bearcats showed why they earned a No. 1 playoff ranking with a 49-14 win over Trinity Christian School. The win advances Bainbridge to the second round of the GHSA 4A playoffs, where they will face Perry High School at home. 

“We played our brand of football,” said Bearcats’ head coach Jeff Littleton. 

The Bearcats were rolling on both sides of the ball. Offensively, the team scored seven touchdowns, three longer than 30 yards, highlighted by an 87-yard rushing touchdown by senior running back Keenan Phillips. 

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“We move the chains and take what the defensive gives us,” Littleton said. “Then we look for a place to hit an explosive play.”

The Bearcat defense had three 4th down stops and interceptions on the night, and made it difficult for the Trinity Christian Lions to get anything going offensively. Junior defensive back TaShun Carter punctuated the defense’s performance with a fourth-quarter interception in the endzone that effectively ended the game. 

“We made some big explosive plays with the turnovers,” Littleton said. “That’s big, we’re going to have to do that defensively.”

The game started all Bearcats, with two interceptions and four consecutive touchdowns in the first one-and-a-half quarters.

Bainbridge got the ball first and was forced to punt on the opening drive. It wouldn’t matter because the Bearcats got the ball back on the next play. Senior defensive back Darius Mills picked the Lions off on their first offensive play of the game. 

On the ensuing drive, Junior wide receiver Luke Griffin caught a 30+ yard pass from senior quarterback Cam Sanders to put the team into striking distance of the endzone. Phillips punched the ball into the endzone two plays later. Senior kicker Nicholas Tyre booted the extra point through the uprights, putting the Bearcats up 7-0. Tyre made every extra point he kicked in the game.

The Lions put together a solid offensive drive next, but their efforts would be squandered deep in Bearcat territory. Senior linebacker Travious Freeman made an interception near the endzone, neutralizing the lion’s scoring threat.

Senior wide receiver Antavious Murphy would put six more on the scoreboard after the interception with a receiving touchdown. Another Tryre kick put the bearcats up 14-0

The Bearcats improvised to put the ball in the endzone on the next offensive drive. Sanders broke free on a quarterback scramble around the 25-yard line. The lions closed down on him, eventually catching him around the 10. As the Lion defenders brought Sanders down, he flipped the ball to Murphy, who was running next to him, and Murphy strolled into the endzone. Tyre’s kick made the score 21-0 Bearcats.

On the next drive, Phillips broke off the first of two long touchdown runs he had Saturday. The JMU commit slipped through the Bearcat offensive line in the middle of the field and was off to the races toward the endzone. His 30+ yard run and Tyre’s kick made the score 28-0.

Momentum shifted in the second quarter, and the Lions scored two rushing touchdowns before the first half ended. Senior running back Phoenix Moss put Trinity Christian on the board with a long rushing touchdown. The Lions capitalized on a Sanders interception a few drives later. The pick put them in a favorable field position, and sophomore running back Bakari Hamilton got in the endzone with seven seconds left in the half. 

“We started fast in the first quarter, and then we kind of took our foot off the gas a little bit in the second quarter,” Littleton said. “We took care of it at halftime and came out all gas, no breaks.”

The Bearcats outscored the Lions 21-0 in the second half. They scored three touchdowns and forced a turnover on downs or interception in each defensive possession.

Sanders opened the Bearcat’s second-half scoring with a 1-yard touchdown run following two unsuccessful tries within the five-yard line. 

Murphy scored his third touchdown on the next offensive drive. The 48-yard rushing touchdown was his longest of the night. 

Phillip capped the Bearcat’s scoring off with the longest touchdown of the game. The Lions put together another threatening, offensive effort the drive before, but the Bearcat defense stopped them on a 4th-and-1 try on the Bainbridge 13-yard line. The Bearcats would start there on offense, and Phillips scorched the Lion defense on the first play of the drive with an 87-yard touchdown run.

The Lions marched down the field again on the next drive until Carter made his game-ending interception in the endzone. Littleton said he was proud of how his team responded in the second half and that their resilience makes them hard to beat.

“It just shows you that, you know, we gave up a few plays and gave up some things here and there,” Littleton said. “But we don’t quit, and we fix it. We don’t dwell on it, we move on to the next play.”

The win puts the Bearcats through to the second round of the playoffs, where they will host Perry High School. The game will be at Centennial Field on Friday, Nov. 17. Kickoff at 7:30 p.m.