Saturday, November 05, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Bears beat Badgers in third

Leader sports editor

or a little more than a half, but the No. 3 ranked Sylvan Hills Bears finally pulled away from the Beebe Badgers for a 42-14 win at Bro Erwin Stadium on Thursday.

Neither team had much to play for, and Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow’s concerns about a lack of focus seemed to bear out early in the game.

“We actually had a pretty good week of practice, but we were just so lethargic coming in here tonight,” said Withrow, who vented his frustration at the team during pregame warm-ups. “You saw it. Even in pregame our heads just weren’t there. Beebe has some talent and they’ve whipped us the last two years in a row. I was worried about it. But we finally woke up, and the defense played great.”

Beebe was able to exploit Sylvan Hills’ defensive strategy in the very early going. After the Badger defense stopped the Bears on downs, Beebe took over on its own 45-yard line. Sylvan Hills stacked 11 in the box to try and stuff Beebe’s Dead-T, run-oriented offense, but on the fourth play, running back Connor Bieker popped through the line of scrimmage and ran 39 yards up the middle for a touchdown. The extra point made it 7-0 with 7:17 left in the first quarter.

Sylvan Hills failed to score in the first quarter for the first time this year, but it scored on six of its next seven possessions the rest of the game. The only time it had the ball and didn’t score was when it ran two plays and tried a 49-yard field goal before time expired in the first half.

On its first possession of the second quarter, the Bears went 70 yards in eight plays, facing just one third down. The key play of the drive was a 27-yard hookup from quarterback Jordan Washington to Jamar Lane that gave the Bears first down at the Badger 14. Washington carried 4 yards from there, and Andre Collins got three-straight carries, the last one for 3 yards and the score. The PAT tied the game with 10:13 to go in the half.

Beebe was stopped on downs on its next possession and the Bears started at their own 46. This time it was yards in chunks. Deon Youngblood got 8 yards on the first play. Daelyn Fairrow had a 7-yard run and a 7-yard reception. Jamar Porter had runs of 6 and 8 yards and Youngblood finished the drive with a 16-yard scamper around the right side for the score with 5:47 left in the half.

That’s how the half ended after Beebe turned it over on downs again and Tito Mendoza was short on the Bears’ long field-goal attempt.

Less than a minute into the second half, the game was tied. Beebe quarterback Mason Walker was hurt on the first play of the half on a keeper for a 2-yard loss. Backup quarterback C.J. Cauldwell came in and the Bears stacked the box again. Again it led to a big play.

Cauldwell faked the handoff as halfback Taylor Boyce slipped by the entire Sylvan Hills defense and was running all alone down the middle of the field for a 72-yard touchdown reception that tied the game with 11:19 to go in the third quarter.

It was about the last good thing to happen to Beebe in the game.

Sylvan Hills answered with a nine-play, 55-yard scoring drive after covering an onside kick attempt.

The Bears kept the drive going when Washington scrambled for 6 yards on fourth and 4 to the Badger 18. Two plays later, Washington kept on the zone read for 10 yards to give the Bears back the lead with 7:28 left in the third.

The Sylvan Hills defense stiffened up and forced a three-and-out by Beebe. This time the Bears’ offense took over on its own 39, and needed just a little more than two minutes to go that distance in seven plays.

They faced fourth and 3 after three plays, but Beebe jumped off sides to give them a first down. On the very next play, tailback Jamar Porter broke loose for a 30-yard gain up the middle to the 18-yard line. Three plays later on first and goal, Washington hit Ty Compton with a 7-yard touchdown pass and a 28-14 lead with 3:12 left in the third.

Beebe had a nice drive going on the ensuing possession, picking up 22 yards in four plays, but the fifth play was a fumble that gave Sylvan Hills possession at the Beebe 37.

On the very next play, Washington found Lane again, this time for 37 yards and another touchdown. The PAT capped the 21-point blitz with 14 seconds to go in the third quarter.

After another turnover on downs by Beebe, Sylvan Hills went 70 yards in eight plays to set the final margin.

The Bears started behind the chains after a 15-yard penalty on first down brought back a 55-yard touchdown pass from Washington to Youngblood. They got 19 of it back in three plays, and Collins picked up 3 yards on fourth and 1 to keep the drive alive.

After a 2-yard loss on first down, Washington and Lane hooked up again, this time for 43 yards for first and goal at the 2. After another 2-yard loss, Washington kept for the score and the PAT made it 42-14 with 5:46 remaining.

Beebe coach John Shannon knew his team was a big underdog coming into the contest, and was able to take some positives out of the game for his young team that finishes the year with a 4-6 record.

“We’re young but the kids played hard,” said Shannon. “It was a tie ballgame in the third quarter and things just got away from us. Sylvan Hills is extremely talented and that defense is 10 times better than any other one I’ve ever seen them have. That makes it tough, but I was proud of the kids for continuing to fight. I think we have some really good young talent. We have to have a really good offseason, get them a little bigger and a little stronger, and I think this bunch has a chance to be pretty successful.”

Washington started the game completing just two of his first eight pass attempts, but completed his last seven straight to finish 9 of 15 for 140 yards and two touchdowns through the air. He also ran 17 times for 104 yards and a score.

Lane caught four passes for 11 yards and one touchdown.

Sylvan Hills (9-1, 6-1) will carry the two seed from the 5A-Central into next Friday’s home playoff game at Blackwood Field in Sherwood.