MERIDIAN – The Frost Polar Bears punched their ticket to the playoffs by securing fourth place in District 11-2A DII with a 44-7 victory over the Meridian Yellow Jackets.
Coach Randy Fulton noted after the game, “I am excited for our team and fans. We knew what we had to do tonight. We say, ‘Believe’. Tonight, we had players believe and make great contributions to our success.”
Even without scoring in the first or fourth quarters, the Bears always seemed to be in control of the game. QB Tony Alvarado completed 11 of 14 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns. Alvarado complete five passes to Korben Bowling for 150 yards, and he completed three passes to Preston Rasco for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, RB JD Hendricks ran for 116 yards on 21 carries for two touchdowns.
In the first quarter, Frost (4-5, 2-2) was slowed by penalties. The Bears collected 12 yellow flags for 100 yards in the game, but 7 of those penalties for 50 yards came in the opening quarter. Frost also missed some offensive opportunities due to dropped passes, but the defense forced Meridian to punt on each of its possessions.
With a balance of run and pass plays, Frost put together a 64-yard drive culminating in a 4-yard Hendricks touchdown run with 10:40 in the second quarter. On the play, Hendricks stood next to Alvarado in shotgun formation but took a direct snap. He then raced to the left edge behind blocks from Michael McLean and Christian Bryant for the score.
After Frost forced Meridian to punt their ensuing possession, the Bears lost 5 yards to due to a false start. Facing 1st and 15 from their own 30-yard line, Alvarado fired a pass over the middle to Rasco running a left to right crossing route. Rasco dodged a couple of tackles, and then turned vertically up the right seem outracing the Yellow Jackets to the endzone for a 70-yard touchdown and a 16-0 lead.
Meridian, using a quarterback option offense, primarily ran the ball with QB Dylan Poole. He gained 96 yards on 23 carries. After he ran eight consecutive times, Poole pitched the ball back to RB Brady Taylor. DE Leopoldo Perez wrapped up Taylor for a 6-yard loss and hacked the ball out of his hands. Perez then recovered the fumble.
With 3:56 left in the half, Frost worked the clock while driving 70 yards over eight plays. Alvarado hit Bowling for 30 yards on the first play of the drive. Bowling, whose hands are like Velcro, caught the ball with his arms outstretched above his head while being interfered. Frost declined the pass interference penalty and kept rolling. With 0:06 left, the Bears faced 4th down and 3 from the four-yard line – enough time for one last play. Alvarado rolled to his right looking to pass to Hendricks or one of his four receivers. As neared the sideline, he reversed and decided to run it himself. He cut toward the end zone, bounced of tacklers, kept his footing, then cut right and into the end zone. The Bears went to halftime with a 22-0 lead.
Frost took the opening second half kickoff. On their first play, they ran a flea-flicker with Alvarado hitting Bowling for a 50-yard gain. On the next play, Hendricks ran into the end zone from 7 yards out, 30-0.
In second half, Meridian began trying to convert fourth downs rather than punt. On 4th down and four from their own 45-yard line, Poole tried run around the right edge of his line. He was swallowed by Perez for only a two-yard gain.
Four plays later, Alvarado scrambled to his right and threw back to his left to Rasco. Rasco broke his route to find an open area for his scrambling quarterback. Their connection went for 28 yards and a touchdown, Frost up 37-0.
Meridian (0-9, 0-4) then had a rare moment of celebration on their Senior Night – or for the season. The Yellow Jackets scored only their second touchdown of season. Taking possession following a Frost kickoff at their own 40-yard line, the Yellow Jackets used eight plays to push to Bears 46-yard line. In that sequence, they had been sacked by Perez and Bryant on back-to-back plays. Facing 4th down and 17, they ran a fake punt play. Poole, an up-man, took the direct snap and heaved the ball to Michael Crawford running a crossing pattern for a touchdown, 37-7.
Before the third quarter expired, Frost scored again. The Bears answered Meridian with a 49-yard drive in five plays capped off by Alvarado running for a 5-yard touchdown, 44-7.
In the fourth quarter, Frost ran time off the clock. Alvarado waited to take snaps until the play clock reached a second to go, and Bears ran the ball. The Bears killed 10:30 off the clock, drove to the 9-yard line and missed a field goal on 4th down. The Bears left Meridian celebrating a victory, a playoff spot, and pizza for a post-game meal.