by Anthony VanCourt, Contributing Writer

The Long Beach Bearcats saw an opportunity for a fourth quarter comeback fall short in their 40-33 defeat to the Pascagoula Panthers when Bearcat Quarterback Will Brady was tackled for a loss on a 4th and goal play from the Pascagoula 2-yard line to end the game. It was the second region defeat for the Bearcats (2-6, 0-2) while giving the Panthers (5-2, 1-1) their first Region 4 – 6A victory of the season.

Long Beach received the opening kickoff and went to work scoring quickly on a 50-yard touchdown run by Ronnie “Junior” Brown after a personal foul facemask penalty by the Panthers pushed the ball to midfield. Two plays later, Brown busted into the open field after breaking several tackles and into the endzone. After the extra-point by Alan Long, Long Beach led early in the first quarter, 7-0.

On the next two possessions, the Panthers and Bearcats would trade four-and-outs before Pascagoula would punch it in from 4 yards out on a quarterback keeper around the left side by junior Quarterback Silas Corder. The extra-point attempt was no good leaving the score 7-6 in favor of Long Beach with 6:03 left in the first quarter. However, the Bearcats were not done scoring in the opening period when Taj Aubert took the handoff straight ahead for a 4-yard touchdown. Alan Long added another PAT pushing the Bearcat lead to 14-6 as the first quarter came to a close.

Despite the early lead of the Bearcats, the second quarter belonged to Pascagoula who took the lead, 18-14 on two touchdowns from Amarie Jackson and Cameron DeFlanders as the Panther run game looked to establish itself.

After the kickoff, Long Beach put together a nice drive as the first half was coming to a close, hoping to regain the lead or add a field goal just before halftime as Taj Aubert to an inside handoff for 33 yards down to the Pascagoula 11 yard line with setting up a first-and-ten for the Bearcats with 2:33 left in the half.

Unfortunately, due to a penalty and some offensive miscues the Bearcats were unable to get any points as the clock reached zero ending the first half with Pascagoula leading Long Beach 18-14.

In the second half, Pascagoula added a touchdown reception from Wide Receiver Brian Barnes Jr. and rushing touchdowns from Cameron DeFlanders while the Bearcats scored on a double-pass to Andre Windham and two rushing touchdowns by Ronnie “Junior” Brown to give Long Beach a 33-32 lead.

The lead would not last long as Pascagoula marched down the field finishing off the 47-yard drive when Amarie Jackson scored from the 8-yard line sending the lead back to the Panthers. After the two-point conversion, Pascagoula led Long Beach 40-33 with 5:17 left in the game, setting up the final drive of the game for the Bearcats.

Long Beach would get the ball, following the kickoff, at their own 31-yard line with everything to play for. The Bearcats would benefit from a pass interference call and some physical running by Brown and Aubert pushing the ball down to the Panther 2-yard line setting up a third-and-goal for the Bearcats with 9 seconds left in the game and a decision to make, run or pass?

Brady walked up to the line, surveyed the defensive front before calling for the snap. He faked the handoff to Brown and went around the left side before being tackled for a loss with no time left on the clock ending the Bearcats’ comeback attempt giving the victory to the Pascagoula Panthers 40-33.

The Bearcats will move on to face Picayune at home for homecoming this week while the Panthers will host the Hancock Hawks try and get back to winning ways after their 28-26 defeat to the George County Rebels.

This week will be a test of will for the Bearcats against the defending state champion Picayune Maroon Tide. Homecoming festivities will begin prior to the game and fans should expect increased traffic and crowds this week.