by Anthony VanCourt, Contributing Writer

For the second consecutive week, the Long Beach Bearcats see a halftime lead vanish as the Forrest County Aggies scored 14 unanswered points to secure the 28 – 17 week 2 victory against the Bearcats at Lumpkin-Magee Stadium in Long Beach.

It was the home opener for the Bearcats, and excitement was in the air as Bearcat Head Coach, Jacob Massey was on the hunt for his first victory since taking over the program in 2022 and the opportunity to break a 30 game losing streak of Long Beach.

The Bearcats were coming off a 49 – 21 loss to the Pass Christian Pirates in week 1 after leading 21-7 at the halftime break. Despite the setback a week earlier, the Bearcats appeared up for the challenge.

Long Beach took the opening kickoff and drove down the field with a mix of short passes and a deceptive, option attack. The drive would eventually stall inside the Aggie 10-yard line after Will Brady’s pass attempt tipped off the hands of the receiver in the endzone forcing a 29 yard field goal from Alan Long giving the Bearcats an early 3 – 0 lead with 8:23 left in the first quarter.

The Bearcat lead would be short lived as the Aggies responded with a 63-yard run on their first play from scrimmage in the first quarter from Terrence Horne who was finally brought down at the Long Beach 8-yard line setting up 1st and goal. On the next play, Omarion Reed took a hand-off from Brett Robertson and went into the endzone for the 8-yard touchdown.

Hayden Grice added the extra-point giving the Forrest County Aggies a 7 – 3 lead with 7:34 left in the first quarter.

With seven minutes remaining in the 1st quarter, the Bearcats responded with a long, sustained drive with some hard running from Junior Brown and Edjuan Trautman which gave time for the defensive unit to regroup and make some adjustments. Having the ball on the Aggies 30-yard line, Will Brady completed a pass to Caiden Ahrens for a crucial 14-yard gain that ended with a late-hit penalty on the Aggies pushing the ball inside the 10-yard line. On the next play, Will Brady found Landon Dry on a crossing route in the endzone for a 9-yard touchdown giving the lead back to the Bearcats.

After the Alan Long extra-point, Long Beach led Forrest County 10-7 with 2:05 left in the first quarter.

The back-and-forth contest continued in the second quarter with the Aggies putting together a nice offensive series with Terrence Horne and Omarion Reed leading the attack.

From the Long Beach 35-yard line, Reed took the hand-off up the middle before bouncing it outside for a 21 yard gain moving the ball to the 14-yard line of the Bearcats. On the next play, Robertson would give to Horne on the speed sweep around the left side and looked to be bottled up by the Bearcat defense before breaking tackles and scampering into the endzone for a 14-yard touchdown flipping the lead back to the Aggies.

After Grice added the extra-point, the Aggies led the Bearcats 14 – 10 with 9:32 left in the second quarter.

As momentum seemed to swing toward the Aggies, the Bearcats benefited from several Aggie penalties and good defense from the secondary as the Long Beach defense held the Aggies on fourth down inside the Bearcat redzone.

After both teams were forced to punt on back-to-back series, the Bearcat would take over on their own 40-yard line poised to finish the first half on a good note with :43 left in the half. With time short, Brady gave the ball to Junior Brown up the middle when suddenly he broke through the line and ran 60 yards for the touchdown to give the Bearcats the lead going into halftime.

Alan Long would add the extra-point from the hold of Caden Ahrens to put the Bearcats up 17 – 14 at halftime.

In the second half things would change for the Bearcats as the Aggies took control of the game. Forrest County would get the ball to start the second half and put on a ground-n-pound clinic eating up 9 minutes of the third quarter before Omarion Reed would complete the 80-yard drive that started from their own 20 with a 4-yard TD run giving the lead back to Forrest County.

After the Grice extra-point, the Aggies would take the 21 – 17 lead and never look back.

The Aggies would finish off the game with another strong performance from the running game with Omarion Reed scoring his third TD of the game on another 4-yard run with Grice adding the extra-point pushing the Aggie lead to 11 points at 28 – 17.

Despite a great effort from Bearcat defensive backs SJ Valentine and Andre Windham along with linebacker Sage Fayard, the Aggie run attack proved to be more than the Bearcats (0-2) could withstand as the game ended 28 – 17 for the Aggies (1-1).

The Bearcats will look to bounce back next week at home against Bay High while Forrest County will host Vancleave in Brooklyn. Long Beach is hoping to stop a losing streak that dates back to the 2020 – 2021 season when the Bearcats only win came against the West Harrison Hurricanes.