Muddy defeat

Bearcats eliminate Tigers from playoff contention


Photo by Margaret Debenport

Wide receiver Chris Sutton runs the ball and is tackled by a Sherman defender. The Tigers lost 27-21 to the Sherman Bearcats on Oct. 19.

Story by John Morgan and Anna Grace Jones

On a night of on-and-off rain and rough field conditions, the Sherman Bearcats broke the hearts of the Tigers in a 27-21 mudfest on Friday night at Bearcat Stadium. This loss marks the fifth in a row for the Tigers and eliminates them from the race for a potential playoff berth.

The Bearcats wasted little time getting on the board as running back Mike Brown scored from 17 yards out on their first drive to give them a 7-0 lead. Later in the quarter, however, the Tigers would showcase their strength as senior quarterback Coltin Clack found senior Myles Washington for a 29-yard touchdown to tie things up.

Little offensive progress was made early in the second quarter for either team as the sloppy field and weather came into the play. The Tigers would catch a break later in the half as senior defensive back Seth Willis recovered a blocked punt and returned it 18 yards for a special teams touchdown to give them the lead.

The Bearcat offense didn’t let this error affect them as on their next drive, they marched down the field in five and a half minutes and scored on a one-yard run from quarterback Blaine Bentzen. Kicker Joel Nandin would miss the kick, though, as the Tigers took a one point lead into the half.

The third quarter got off to a slow start before the Bearcats capitalized on an 18-yard scamper by Brown that regained them the lead midway through the period. The Tigers struggled, meanwhile, to put up points as they fostered long drives but failed to convert crucial downs.

The start of the fourth quarter saw the Tigers put together another promising drive before Clack threw a rare interception that stalled the drive and gave the Bearcats a short field to work with. They quickly turned the turnover into points as Brown ran down the sidelines for 41 yards and a score to increase their lead.

The Tiger offense would respond on their next drive as they converted several short passes before Clack scored from two yards out. They then forced the Bearcats to punt and got the ball back with a chance to win the game.

It was all for nothing, however, as two fourth down plays on the next two drives would solidify the result. The Tigers quickly found themselves in a fourth-and-3 situation on which Clack was tackled short of the first down while on the ensuing drive, the Bearcats had no problem running up the middle to keep on running out the clock and assuring their 27-21 victory.

The Tigers struggled to find any rhythm on offense as they failed to overcome the sloppy weather and field conditions. Failure to convert on critical drives in the fourth quarter allowed the Bearcats to keep on pounding the run game and waste time to seal their victory.

“In a game like this and in weather and field conditions like this, it’s a game of opportunities,” coach Gerry Stanford said. “You can take them and make the most of them or let them slide.”

The Tiger defense again found themselves victimized by a strong rushing attack as the Bearcats had 390 yards on the ground and averaged nearly seven yards per carry. This was the fourth time in five games that the Tigers have allowed over 300 yards rushing.

“We got to push forward and finish the season out strong,” Washington said. “We have to take it like every other game and give it everything we’ve got.”

Clack completed 11 of 24 passes for 130 yards with two total touchdowns and an interception. Senior running back Chris Sutton had 19 carries for 96 yards while Washington reeled in six catches for 81 yards and a score.

Bentzen completed two of eight passes for 56 yards with an interception while also running the ball 14 times for 66 yards and a touchdown. Brown had 33 carries for 235 yards and three rushing touchdowns and a catch for 51 yards. Running back Damian McKee added eight carries for 111 yards.

“The kids gave good effort all night long,” Stanford said. “[Football is] a game of learning what life is about and how to fight through hard times even when it’s not what you want.”

The Tigers have a bye week before playing their Homecoming game against the Wylie East Raiders on Nov. 2 at 7 p.m.