by Hunter Dawkins
Unlike last week’s first home games with an offensive bonanza from the football field, the Long Beach Bearcats were reduced to finding solutions defensively. Trailing after the Vancleave Bulldogs halftime lead, the Bearcats allowed three turnovers and only one score in a 33-20 defeat.
“We lost our focus this week,” said Long Beach Bearcats Football Coach Philip Pigott. “We believe in our guys and they believe in each other and this team is still on the right track with all of our goals.”
Long Beach jumped on the scoreboard early after stalling the Bulldogs on the opening possession and scoring on a long scamper from the Bearcats Junior Running Back Johnny Pham. The extra point was missed, leaving the early score at 6-0.
Vancleave quickly answered with a lengthy touchdown drive themselves, scoring a touchdown and converting the extra point with a slim 7-6 lead and three minutes to go.
Bearcats Senior Kobe Cook scored on the next drive, bring in a short pass from Long Beach Junior Quarterback Guice Tripp with under a minute left. Long Beach kicker Simon Nguyen converted the extra point for a 13-7 lead that would finish the first quarter.
The Bulldogs answered the call again with a quick touchdown pass and tying the game. Fortunately for the Bearcats, Vancleave missed the extra point and the score remained tied with 10 minutes left in the half.
On the next kickoff, Long Beach fumbled the ball to Vancleave. The Bulldogs were forced to turn the ball over on down, but Long Beach Quarterback Tripp threw a ball that was tipped and intercepted by Vancleave. After the turnover, the Bulldogs promptly scored a rushing touchdown with an extra point to increase the lead 20-13.
At the halftime homecoming festivities at Lumpkin Magee Field, Meredith LeMasters was named the 2019 Long Beach Bearcats Homecoming Queen.
As the second half was not kind to the Bearcats, the offense did not deliver much on their opening possession and gave the ball back. The Bulldogs put together a lengthy drive and scored on a rushing touchdown with under three minutes to go in the quarter. Following the extra point, Vancleave built their lead 27-13 and this score finished the quarter.
The Bearcats did not give up, forcing the Bulldogs to turnover on downs and marching down the field until Long Beach Junior D’lijah Robinson dove in from two yards out for a touchdown. With Nguyen putting the ball through the uprights, the new score was 27-20 Vancleave lead.
Just like the second quarter, the Vancleave Bulldogs came through on a lengthy run, which resulted in a quick touchdown. Despite the extra point being blocked, the score was now 33-20 with just under 5 minutes.
Long Beach fumbled the kickoff, only to have the Bulldogs turn the ball over back to them. Unfortunately, the Bearcats threw another interception on the last drive as Vancleave secured the victory.
“We have a bye week to clean up the little things setting us back,” said Pigott. “Now we focus on going 1-0 in district play.”
Tripp led the Bearcats under center with 173 yards passing and a touchdown pass. Long Beach had good performances from Pham carrying 88 yards on five attempts and a score along with Kobe Cook hauling in seven receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown.
The Bearcats have a bye this week before hitting the road against their first district opponent, Gautier, on September 27 at 7pm.