The sequel didn’t live up to the original.
Instead of a repeat of a regular season war between Bridgeport and Robert C. Byrd on the football field, the game turned out to be somewhat of a bust. For those in the red and white, it’s likely they would argue what took place was an award-winning performance. And they would have an argument for that.
The Indians rolled their way past the Eagles by a 42-7 score in a Class AA quarterfinal contest at Wayne Jamison Field. BHS will play next week for the right to advance to Wheeling Island and a chance to compete in the state championship game.
“We weren’t expecting that, but at the same time it was our night. We had a pretty good week of practice and a good game plan … Our kids were ready to play and they wanted to play,” said BHS Coach John Cole. “ … These kids have a lot to be proud of.”
The win moves the No. 3-ranked Indians to 11-1 on the year and marked the second win of the season against the Eagles. Robert C. Byrd, ranked sixth, ends their campaign at 9-3.
The contest was in stark contrast to the game in week five of the regular season. The Indians twice rallied from double digit deficits in the fourth quarter to get a 41-35 win. There would be no rally needed tonight as Bridgeport dominated from start to finish.
While the 42 points is something most will point to, it was the Tribe’s defense that was the difference this time around. Incredibly, the Eagles – averaging over 400 yards of offense on the season – finished with just 194 yards of offense.
“The defense played the best game of the year and they did it at the right time,” said Bridgeport Coach John Cole. “ … All the credit goes to the players. Obviously, they wanted to win pretty badly and they improved since we played the last time. Throw in the job the coaching staff did and you just hope something like this works out. Thankfully, it did.”
Bridgeport’s offense wasn’t too shabby either. It finished with 377 yards in the contest. Of that total, 353 of it came on the ground on 48 carries.
“It was blocking. We just continue to get better every week,” said Bridgeport offensive coordinator Tyler Phares. “We threw a few things in there with a few players at the point of attack they may not have seen, but when it comes down to it we just did better up front.
With the line blocking, Jake Bowen ran wild. Not only did he go over the 2,000-yard rushing mark on the season, but he finished with 253 yards on 27 carries with three touchdowns.
“He made a bunch of great cuts. Whenever they pinched in we were able to fold some blocks down and he was able to bang it outside and get a few more extra yards,” said Phares. “He’s just a special player.”
The game was essentially over at halftime. Bridgeport led 28-0 and the biggest amount of hope of an RCB comeback was squashed on the opening possession of the second half.
Bridgeport started on its own 30 and needed just three plays to cover the distance. Bowen started the drive with a 22-yard run and finished it with a 42-yard burst for six that put the Tribe up 35-0 after the fifth of six successful point-after kicks by Evan Ogden with 10:37 to play in the third quarter.
“That was something you have to do,” said Cole of the third quarter score that was one of the final daggers to the Eagles.
RCB did get a bit of daylight late in the third quarter. The Indians muffed a punt and the Eagles pounced on it at the Bridgeport 22 and went to work.
Ghovan Davidson put Robert C. Byrd on the board with a one-yard run on fourth down for six. Ryan Longerbeam’s extra point made it 35-7 with 3:47 left to play.
Any momentum, and any hope, would be wiped out on the Tribe’s next drive. The Indians used eight plays to cover 75 yards that ended with D’Andre Holloway keeping it from one yard out. The point-after by Ogden proved to be the final points of the night with 22.7 seconds remaining in the third.
There would be no scoring in the final quarter. A running clock kept the game going due to the 35-point advantage.
BHS never trailed in the game and it took its lead early. And it provided a preview of things to come.
On the fourth play of the game’s first possession, RCB coughed the ball up and the Tribe’s Garrett Crumbless recovered. Immediately the Indians were in business at the Eagles’ 35-yard line.
It wouldn’t take long for the Tribe to capitalize on the miscue. After working the ball to the RCB 8-yard line, Devin Vandergrift kept the ball and scooted to the left. A Robert C. Byrd defender had a line on Vandergrift, but the junior quarterback planted and cut against the grain to go in untouched for the score.
“In a game like this, it’s huge,” said Cole of the early turnover. “The other thing is to capitalize on it. It’s great to get that turnover because the kids were playing hard, making something happen, flying to the ball, slowing them down and then to cash it in at that time in a game like this is really big.”
Defensive coordinator Adam King agreed with Cole. In fact, he was pleased with both turnovers that the Eagles had on the evening.
“The great part about the turnovers was that we forced both of them. On the first one someone got a nice little hit on the football and knocked it out. The second one, Jake ripped out,” said King.
Ogden then added the first of four successful first half point-after kicks and the Tribe was up 7-0 with 8:18 to play. Things would only get worse for RCB.
The Eagles appeared ready to shake off the early turnover and drove the ball deep into BHS territory on their next drive. RCB used eight plays to get to the Indians’ 24 to set up a fourth down play. Needing three yards, the Indians’ defense turned the play into a one-yard loss and took over.
On the next possession, the Indians would only need six plays to cover 75 yards and go up by two scores. After four straight runs by Bowen, Vandergrift kept it for 17 yards to set the stage for the next score. The Indians did a quick hitter to Trey Pancake at fullback and he outraced the RCB defense with a run straight up the gut for a 42-yard score and what would turn into a 14-0 advantage at the 2:04 mark of the first. Pancake would finish with 68 yards on eight carries.
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