SPORTS >>Wolves slash Bears Friday
PEARCY — The Bears’ amazing run finally came to an end Friday night at Wolf Stadium, as Lake Hamilton rolled off four first-half touchdowns on its way to a 44-16 win in the semifinal round of the 6A state playoffs. Sylvan Hills was able to score on their opening drive of the second half, but the Wolves answered right back with a scoring drive of their own that ate up the final seven minutes of the third quarter.
“We missed out on some opportunities tonight,” Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow said. “In a game like this, four or five plays can change the game for you, and it certainly did us tonight. I’m proud of our guys, though. Coming out 0-4 to start the season, they could have folded it up and quit, but they fought hard all year and got themselves in the semifinals of the playoffs. Lake Hamilton is a great team, and you can’t make mistakes against them if you want to give yourself a chance.”
For Wolves coach Jerry Clay, it was his team’s all-around effort on both sides of the football that he believed earned the win.
“We blocked well up front all night,” Clay said. “They have a lot of speed on defense, but not a lot of size. We thought we could run right at them. Our defense has played great all year, and tonight wasn’t any different. They have a good offense, and it took us a while to adjust to their speed.”
An omen of the Bears’ night to come showed itself before the game even started, as key receiver Devin Shaw suffered a shoulder injury during pre-game warm ups.
Lake Hamilton senior Cole Lorigan put the Wolves on the scoreboard on the opening kickoff. Addison Wynn actually caught the kick from Stephan Kettle, but handed the ball to with on a reverse, and he would take it all the way for a 90-yard touchdown kick return. Jordan Gay added the extra point to give Lake Hamilton a very early 7-0 lead with 11:47 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Bears drove into Lake Hamilton on their opening drive, but would eventually turn the ball over on downs. The Wolves would return the favor deep in Sylvan Hills territory, but the first major mistake of the night would occur on the Bears’ first-down play. A bobbled snap found its way to the turf, and Dylan McMahan was there to recover for the Wolves at the Sylvan Hills’ 9-yard line.
It didn’t take the Wolves long to strike again from there. A pass from QB Butterfield to Josh Whitney in the end zone put Lake Hamilton up by two scores with 4:47 left in the first quarter.
The Bears got on the scoreboard in the first half with a 25-yard field goal by Stepan Kettle to make it 14-3 with 11:50 left in the second quarter, but Lake Hamilton came right back with a seven play, 48 yard drive that was set up by a solid return by D. J. Bell. Butterfield kept on second and goal from the two yard line for the third Wolves’ TD of the night with 9:06 remaining in the first half.
Another LH touchdown off a 49-yard pass play from Butterfield to Josh Profitt with 1:52 left in the first half gave the Wolves a 28-3 lead at halftime.
The Bears came up energized for their first drive of the second half. The drive started out rather shaky, with Miller slipping in the pocket while scrambling, which resulted in a 9 yard loss. A late hit penalty against the Wolves got that yardage back and then some, but an incomplete pass intended for Mark Turpin resulted in a fourth and two, and the Bears lined up to punt.
The punt turned out to be a fake, and Deyonte Davis ran the snap upfield for a gain of five yards, giving the Bears a fresh set of downs at their own 32-yard line. It began to look like the Bears of old from there, as Miller and fullback Lawrence Hodges shared rushing duties to take the ball into Lake Hamilton territory, and Miler capped off the drive with a three-yard touchdown run with seven minutes left in the third quarter. Kettle added the extra-point to make it 28-10.
The Wolves extented their lead with a 30-yard field goal by Gay at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and added another touchdown moments later after a fumble by Sylvan Hills gave the ball back to Lake Hamilton. This time, it was Nic Utley that took it in for the Wolves.
Michael Watkins scored the final Wolves’ touchdown of the night with 3:37 remaining, but Miller and the Bears’ offense had one last trick up their sleeves.
Miller found Davis for a 65-yard touchdown pass down the middle of the field on the fourth play of the ensuing drive. Davis pulled down the spiral from Miller and shook his defender at the LH 40, and rumbled the rest of the way for the score.
Miller finished the game with 10 completions on 23 attempts for 150 yards and a touchdown, with one interception. Hodges had 14 carries for 64 yards, and Turpin had seven receptions for 62 yards. Davis added three catches for 88 yards and a touchdown. For Lake Hamilton, Butterfield led with 9 of 13 passing for 134 yards. The Bears finished the season with a final record of 7-5. Lake Hamilton stayed undefeated with a 12-0 record, and will face conference rival Texarkana in the state finals.