by Anthony VanCourt, Contributing Writer
The Long Beach Bearcats (2-4) picked up their second victory of the season 35-34 over the South Jones Braves (2-4) in a back and forth contest that would ultimately come down to a fumbled snap by South Jones on 2-point conversion attempt that could have given South Jones the victory. Instead, the Bearcat defense held, giving Long Beach their first home win since 2019 when the Bearcats beat the West Harrison Hurricanes 57-49.
The South Jones Braves elected to receive the opening kickoff and began to put together a solid opening drive until the Bearcat defense forced a fumble at their own 42-yard line that was recovered by SJ Valentine.
After the turnover, Long Beach Running Back Ronnie Brown, Jr. wasted no time scoring a 58 yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage to open the scoring for the Bearcats. Alan Long would add the point-after for the early 7-0 lead over South Jones.
The next series would be more of the same for South Jones as Long Beach Defensive Lineman Gavin Simpson forced another fumble giving the ball to the Bearcats at their own 40 yard line with 7:07 left in the first quarter. After some hard running by Brown, Long Beach Running Back Edjuan Trautman took the handoff from Will Brady off-tackle 23 yards diving into the endzone for another Bearcat touchdown.
Once Alan Long’s PAT was converted, Long Beach led South Jones 14-0.
The Braves responded on the next series with a 34-yard touchdown pass from Josh Marshall to Jarvis Roberts to get the Braves on the board. After the PAT was good, Long Beach led South Jones 14-7 with 1:35 left in the first quarter.
Long Beach would get the football to start the second quarter and went right to work loosening the South Jones defense with more power running from Ronnie Brown, Jr. before Will Brady hit Landon Dry over the middle for a 30-yard pickup.
After a sack on Brady pushed the Bearcats back to the South Jones’ 42-yard line, Ronnie Brown, Jr. busted through for a 42-yard run right up the middle for his second touchdown of the night. Long’s extra-point would get blocked, but the Bearcats would lead 20-7.
Despite being down by two scores, South Jones worked quickly on their next possession after a kickoff out-of-bounds would give the Braves good field position.
South Jones running back Emmanuel Jones put the Braves on his back with several tough runs before finishing the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run cutting the Bearcats’ lead to 20-14 after the PAT.
On the ensuing kickoff, South Jones pulled off an onside kick giving the ball back to the Braves before Jones put the ball in the endzone from a 3-yard run to tie the ballgame at 20. Following the PAT, South Jones led Long Beach, 21-20 with 2:14 left in the first half.
The Braves would not have the lead for long as Long Beach’s Ronnie Brown, Jr. punched it in from 9 yards out to give the lead back to the Bearcats. With the two-point conversion attempt being good, Long Beach led 28-21 going into halftime. Brown finished with four touchdowns and 174 yards rushing to lead the Bearcats offense.
On the first play of the second half with the ball on their own 35 yard line, Long Beach Quarterback Will Brady ran 61 yards down to the South Jones 4 yard line before Brown would convert on his fourth touchdown of the night from 4 yards out, and after the extra-point by Bearcats Placekicker Alan Long pushed the lead to 35-21.
South Jones running back Emmauel Jones added two more touchdowns for the Braves bringing the score to 35-34 in favor of the Bearcats with the South Jones two-point conversion still to come.
With the game on the line, South Jones fumbled the snap and the quarterback was tackled for a loss keeping the score at 35-34. Long Beach (2-4) would recover the onside kick and run out the clock with South Jones (2-4) out of timeouts giving the Bearcats their second win of the season and first win at home since 2019.
Brady had 76 yards rushing along with 57 yards passing offensively while Long Beach Linebacker Sage Bayard finished with 20 tackles and Safety Andre Windham recovered two fumbles on defense.
Next week the Bearcats will travel to Lucedale for the first region game of the year versus the George County Rebels.