SPORTS >> Red zone defense sews up Bears victory
By JASON KING
Leader sports writer
Sylvan Hills won the battle of missed opportunities.
Crossett had its chances to take the lead at the end of each half but could not cash in either time as the Bears claimed their first victory 3-0 in a 5A-Southeast game at Bill Blackwood Field on Friday.
The Bears (1-5, 1-2) also watched potential scores go by the wayside until senior Stephan Kettle kicked a 19-yard field goal with 3:01 left in the third quarter to give Sylvan Hills just enough for a successful homecoming.
The Eagles (2-4, 0-3) pinned the hosts deep in the last three minutes of the game, which resulted in solid field position at the Bears’ 33 after Jordan Spears punted from his goal line. But time management was critical for the Eagles, who had burned their last two timeouts to stop the clock when the Bears had the ball.
Crossett quickly moved inside the 10 with passes from senior quarterback Derek Johnson to Orlando Robinson and Brandon Bryant. Bryant’s 4-yard reception was to the Sylvan Hills 10-yard line, and an unsportsmanlike conduct call against the Bears moved the ball to the 5 with less than a minute left.
Nick Brewer deflected a Johnson pass on first down, and Marquis Smith stopped Robinson for a 1-yard gain on the next play. Another incompletion gave the Eagles fourth-and-goal at the 5, and Smith stopped Johnson in the backfield on a blitz to force a turnover on downs with 9 seconds to play.
“I made a lot of coaching mistakes tonight, and I guess we overcame the coaching,” Bears coach Jim Withrow said. “I’m proud of our kids because they kept playing hard. We probably should have scored a couple of other times, but when it snowballs on you like things have for us, you’re just trying to get a break, and those touchdowns will come.”
Smith, the senior transfer running back from North Little Rock held up well in his workhorse role, carrying 29 times for 141 yards on the ground, and had the three early receptions for 53 more yards.
The Bears marched inside the Eagle 30 to start the second quarter but turned the ball over on downs at the Crossett 27.
Meaningless possessions were once again swapped before the Eagles went on the biggest scoring threat of the half, with a possession that ended oddly.
A short pass to Brandon Bryant pushed the ball to the 5-yard line, which gave the Eagles one more shot before halftime.
Michael Robinson intercepted Johnson’s lob into the end zone, but the Eagles got the ball back with a fresh set of downs on a pass interference call.
It was all for naught, as Robinson intercepted Johnson’s next pass to end the half.