Saturday, September 30, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> End zone fumble dooms Bears

Leader staff writer

Deon Youngblood gained more than 200 yards in rushes, pass completions, and kickoff returns and added three touchdowns and a two-point conversion to the score Friday night for the Sylvan Hills Bears, but it was his fumble on the 1-yard line in overtime that sealed the game for the Little Rock Christian Warriors.

The Bears hung tough in the game played on their own home turf, but came up short, 41-35.

“I’m proud of these kids,” said Bear coach Jim Withrow. “It was a tough loss, but we went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the state. We just haven’t been able to catch a break, yet the kids keep playing hard. Something good is going to happen.”

The Bear defense gave the home team a chance to win in the fourth quarter by stopping the Warriors on the 45-yard line. The big play was a monster sack by Tim Board on a third-down play forcing a punt.

Sylvan Hills worked the ball to the Warriors’ 26-yard line with four seconds to go.

Tito Mendoza, who has a strong leg, tried to seal a win for the Bears with a 43-yard field goal try, but it fell just short, leading to overtime.

The Warriors won the toss and took three plays to score from the 10-yard line. The extra-point try missed, but a penalty gave them another try, and they missed again, leaving the door open for the Bears.

Taking their shot from the 10-yard line, the Bears pushed it to the 1-yard line on fourth down. Youngblood got the call, but a hard hit jarred the ball loose and it bounced aimlessly into the end zone surround by Warriors who pounced on it to end the game.

“We’ll reconvene on Monday and I don’t want to hear any ‘almost’ talk,” Withrow said.

It took LRCA (5-0) almost to the end of the first quarter to score, drawing first blood at the 1:32 mark even though Cole Bland, Kyle White and Brennan Shelton laid some heavy hits and tackles on the Warrior ball carriers.

It started to look like a rout when the Warriors scored four minutes into the second quarter behind the scrambling and passing of Jackson Bowersock.

Darius Waddell then intercepted an errant Bowersock pass and flew 70-yards for the score. Tito Mendoza added the extra point.

Midway through the third quarter, the Bears pushed the ball downfield from their own 3-yard line, taking nearly five minutes to score on a run by Youngblood. During the point-after kick, the Warriors were called for being offside, putting the ball just outside the one-yard line. The Bears decided to forego the tie and shoot for the lead with a 2-point conversion, but Youngblood couldn’t turn the corner.

Down by one, the Bears kicked off to the Warriors who ran and passed it down to the Bears’ 36-yard line. With fourth down and just inches to go, Garrett Gilbert came up big stopping Hill for no gain.

That sparked a drive by the Bears (3-2, 0-2) with Youngblood, quarterback Ryan Lumpkin and running back Ty Compton sharing run duties. It took two tries by Lumpkin, from the 1-yard line, but he broke the plane, putting the Bears up. This time the two-point conversion by Youngblood worked, and it was Bears 21, Warriors 14 with 1:20 to go in the quarter.

That lead only lasted 13 seconds as the Warriors, starting on their 40-yard line after a Bears pooch kick, hit a 60-yard touchdown pass. The third quarter ended with the teams knotted at 21.

But the Warriors wasted little time in the fourth quarter to jump out in front at the 9:38 mark behind another big, 47-yard pass play.

It was Sylvan Hills turn to strike back quickly. It only took about a minute for Lumpkin to hit Youngblood zipping down the sidelines for a 70-yard pass completion and touchdown. Another good extra point and the game was again tied.

But two plays later, it was the Warriors in the end zone again. This time behind a quarterback pitch to Trey Harris who rambled 52-yards for the score.

Like Heavyweights trading blows in the final rounds, the Bears punched back as Youngblood zig-zagged his way from the 40-yard line to the end zone. A Mendoza extra point locked things up at 35 to 35.

The Bears play Mills in Little Rock next Friday.