Saturday, October 05, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Bears win nail-biter over Mills

Leader sportswriter

It was a rivalry game that lived up to its hype as Sylvan Hills came from behind twice to defeat Mills University Studies 37-36 at Mills Stadium on Friday in a vital 5A Central Conference matchup.

Bears junior quarterback Tra Doss found senior Kylan Wade for a 26-yard touchdown pass with 2:23 remaining that tied the game at 36-36, and junior kicker Philip Wood booted the winning point through on the extra-point try to complete a two-score comeback for Sylvan Hills.

Mills (4-1, 1-1) put itself in great shape early in the fourth quarter when Calen Peters broke through for a 94-yard touchdown run at the 11:02 mark to give the Comets a 36-23 lead.

The Bears (4-1, 2-0) refused to concede as they quickly drove down the field on a 10-play drive that encompassed 71 yards in less than four minutes. Doss ran in from 5 yards out to score with 7:17 remaining.

On the ensuing drive, the Bears stopped Mills with a blitz on fourth down that set up the winning drive at the Sylvan Hills’ 41-yard line.

“I’m proud of our kids,” Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow said. “They gave it everything they had. They just would not quit. I knew if we just kept grinding, because we play fast, eventually, we’d score some points. I didn’t know if we’d ever stop them, but our defense made enough plays where we ran in there and stopped them.”

Despite the shootout score, the biggest difference for the Bears in their second comeback came on defense. Mills was facing a fourth and 7 at the Sylvan Hills’ 37 and elected to go for it. Comets quarterback Omar Avance barely eluded the blitz of Wade and tossed to Jacob Cranford in the backfield, who was immediately met by senior defensive back Garrett Barham for a 4-yard loss with 5:25 left to play.

“We just had to move around a little bit,” Withrow said. “We’re kind of thin in some spots. Coach (Chad) Collins keeps coming up with ways to do stuff, and he just dialed one up there at the right time.”

Mills had one last shot at taking the lead in the final two minutes, but threw three-straight incompletions following a sack of Avance for a loss of four yards.

“We told them ahead of time that you can’t stop until the thing is over with them,” Comets coach Patrick Russell said. “They did a good job. They didn’t quit. They got a stand. We should have punted. We had converted that earlier, but I was hoping to put them away. We should have learned from what happened last year.”

The Bears came up big on the opening kickoff when they recovered a Mills fumble at the Comet 48 yard line. Doss led a rushing attack that got Sylvan Hills down to the Mills’ 4-yard line, but they ran out of downs and had to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Wood.

Sylvan Hills would take better advantage of the next gift from Mills when Braylon Goodwin fumbled on the opening snap off an option toss from Avance. Senior Daniel Molden scooped it up for Sylvan Hills near midfield and returned to the Mills’ 43.

Doss opened this possession in the air with a short 5-yard pass to junior receiver Nathan Thomas before coming up big on third down with a 26-yard pass play to junior Chace Pieper that set Sylvan Hills up with a first and goal at the Mills’ 10.

Marlon Clemmons moved it forward four yards and Doss picked up three more before finding Wade in the end zone at the 6:28 mark. Doss faked a draw up the middle to pull coverage in, which gave him a clear shot at Wade to give the Bears a 10-0 lead following Woods’ point-after kick.

The Comets recovered quickly, scoring on their next drive which went 69 yards in 10 plays, capped off by a 35-yard touchdown pass from Avance to Peters with 17 seconds remaining in the opening period to cut the Bears’ lead to 10-7.

Mills then forced a three and out by Sylvan Hills and took over again at its own 25. This time, the Comets went 75 yards in nine plays, and scored when Peters ran it in from three yards out to give Mills a 14-10 lead with 7:12 left to play in the first half.

Goodwin came away with the biggest defensive play of the first half for the Comets when he intercepted a Doss pass at the Mills’ 32 and returned it all the way to increase the lead to 22-10 at the 6:17 mark of the second quarter. The Comets opted to go for a two-point conversion, and were successful with a running play by Peters.

The Bears answered back with a 43-yard touchdown run by Clemmons down the right sideline on third down with 5:16 remaining in the first half to cut it to 22-17.

The defense stood its ground and forced a quick punt by Mills, and the Bears took over at their own 33-yard line with 3:19 left on the clock.

It took almost all of that time, as Sylvan Hills went 77 yards in 14 plays, finally scoring on a 9-yard pass play from Doss to Thomas with 12 seconds remaining to take a 23-22 lead at the half.

Sylvan Hills finished with 346 yards of total offense. Doss was 11 of 18 passing for 105 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He also carried 17 times for 71 yards and a touchdown. Clemmons rushed 16 times for 106 yards and a touchdown while sophomore running back Tyler Davis carried 24 times for 90 yards.

Mills had 136 yards at the half, but finished with only 204 total yards. Ke’Undre Allen led the way with 13 carries for 87 yards.

Sylvan Hills will host Jacksonville next week. The Red Devils defeated Little Rock McClellan 31-6 on Friday.