BROWNSBORO – In a contest that would put any on-sides kick fan in football heaven, Brownsboro kicker, Jorge Vicente split the uprights on the last play of the game to give the Bears to a 35-34, win in District 74A-DII action, at Bear Stadium, on Friday night.
Cold, winter-like temperatures along with the time consumption offense by Brownsboro made for a low scoring, and a true grind-it-out contest early on, and 14-14 halftime.
Five on-side kicks in the game and four in the second half would prove to make the contest exciting, as both teams took advantage of good field position in the closing half.
Bear quarterback, Gage Wehrman did all his damage with his legs, scoring on runs of one, and 5-yards. His lone pass completion of the night turned out to be big, capping off a Bear TD with a point-after-touchdown completion, and a 23-22, Brownsboro lead early in the final period.
Bullard quarterback, Tristen Shewmake, and wide receiver, Nic Hooley, teamed up for two fast scores. Late in the game, a clutch catch from Hooley set up the final Panther score of the game for his Panthers.
Taking the opening kickoff of the game, the Bears got a huge 32-yard run to highlight an 11 play, 70-yard scoring drive. Running back, Dakota Harmon bulled-in for the final 6-yards, and Vicente added the point-after kick for a 7-0 lead after running off 6:18 of playing time.
Bullard answered back as the quarter was quickly winding-down.
Taking over at the Bullard 25-yard line, the Panthers came up big on Tristan Shewmake’s first pass, finding Landon Wheeler for a 54-yard gain to the Bears 6-yard line. Four plays later, Latrez Young bulled in from the 1-yard line to tighten the score. The Panther PAT attempt missed wide and a 7-6 scoreboard.
Brownsboro rode out the first quarter clock and then some on the next possession.
Nine running plays and taking off another 5:43 in game time, the Bears quarterback, Gage Wehrman finished off the possession with a 1-yard plunge. Another Vicente, PAT kick gave Brownsboro a 14-6 advantage.
The ensuing drive by the Panthers looked to get even but the drive stalled out. A field goal attempt missed wide to thwart the Bullard efforts. Bullard was not done by any means however.
Brownsboro managed one first down before a penalty cost the Bears some vital yardage. The Panther defense next forced the only punt of the half, making for some excellent field position but little time to work with before the half.
The Panthers made up the scoring difference in one big play.
Taking over after 29-yard punt with 1:07 remaining before intermission, it took just 13-seconds before Nic Hooley was striding into the Bears end zone for a 49-yard touchdown pass reception. Bullard then pulled off the swinging-gate formation PAT attempt as Shewmake found Bryson Luscombe for the 14-14 equalizer just before the halftime break.
The opening kickoff was an on-sides boot by Vicente, and the Bears recovered.
The Panthers defense bent but did not break as the Brownsboro stalled out after six plays, setting up Vicentes’ first field goal attempt. The 2018 All-District kicker made the 22-yard boot, staking the Bears to a 17-14, advantage.
Bullard recovered the next Bear on-side try, setting up the offense with great field position once again.
It took only five plays before Shewmake hit a wide-open Hooley in full-stride for a quick 25-yard scoring strike. The PAT pass from Shewmake to Conner Carson gave the Panthers their first lead of the game at 22-17.
As they did earlier, the Bears recovered a Bullard on-sides attempt but this time.
Team captain, Tanner Fowler and Brad Brooks stepped up for the Panther defense to make huge defensive stops to force a Bear punt after three downs.
The ensuing Bullard drive mirrored the Bears with a punt. The Panthers kick was partially blocked though to set up the hosts at the Panther 34-yard line.
Four play later, Wehrman scored his 5-yard TD on the first play of the final quarter. Wehrman then made his first completion to Harmon for a two-point conversion, and change the scoreboard again to 23-22 with the Bears ahead.
Bullard got rolling again, and a little trickeration got the drive started. A double-reverse pass completion to Hooley, set up Bullard at the Bears 25-yard line
Three plays later, Jaxson Elliot scored on a 25-yard catch-and-run, but a failed PAT pass left it a 32-28 contest.
Next, the final on-side kick went in the Panthers favor as Luscombe jumped on the errant football at their own, 48-yard line.
Shewmake hit Conner Carson for a big play to the Bears 30-, followed by the Hooley circus catch set up what would be the final Panther tally.
Shewmake found Latrez Young on a screen pass for the final 9-yards, and a 34-32 Bullard lead with 1:36 remaining in regulation.
The Bears made one last bid for the win and quarterback, Wehrman made two key first down runs to set the ball down to the Bullard 14-yard line.
With five seconds left on the clock, Vicente sealed the Bears first league win with the 28-yard true boot, and possible playoff bid in the ofting.
The Panthers (2-7; 1-2), will wrap up the regular season at home against Canton next week. The Bears (2-8; 1-3), could make the playoffs with the win, and will have the final week off as they await the final weekend to play out.