SPORTS >> Bears edge Badgers
By MIKE GARRITY
Special to The Leader
After three quarters it became apparent the team that made the first big mistake was the one that was going to see its season end at Sylvan Hills’ Bill Blackwood Field on Thursday night.
That big mistake came early in the fourth quarter, when Sylvan Hills capitalized and beat the Beebe Badgers 13-12 and grabbed the final playoff berth from the 5A-Southeast.
On a fourth down, Sylvan Hills (4-6, 4-3) punted from its 40-yard line. The Badgers fumbled the punt and Stephan Kettle recovered at the Beebe 20.
Three consecutive incomplete passes and an illegal motion penalty forced the Bears into another fourth-down situation from the 25. Jordan Spears found Devonte Britt open down the middle at the 10, and Britt took it in for the first score of the game with 11:16 to play.
“That was a huge play,” Bears coach Jim Withrow said. “You get in these games and it comes down to one or two plays, I am glad that we made one.”
Britt had six passes thrown his way during the game, but didn’t make his first reception until the final play of the third quarter, and he fumbled that one after the catch, but the Bears retained possession.
“Devonte Britt struggled early and then came out and made the big plays late,” Withrow said. “That is what seniors do.”
The Badgers (3-7, 3-4) responded with a seven-play drive that covered 72 yards and was capped by Colby Taylor’s 16-yard scoring run. Beebe missed a two-point conversion attempt when Nick Brewer and Michael Robinson stopped Adam Griffis at the goal line.
“We should have been doing that the whole game, but for whatever reason we didn’t,” Beebe coach John Shannon said of the scoring drive. “When we finally woke up, I thought that we were in good shape, but our two-point conversions really hurt us.”
Sylvan Hills’ Julian Broner fumbled on the first carry of the next possession, and the Badgers’ Spencer Forte recovered at the Bears’ 35. Six consecutive running plays, including the last five by Griffis, led to Griffis’ 1-yard scoring run.
Another missed two-point conversion left the Badgers with a 12-7 lead with 6:07 to play. Griffis finished the night with 123 yards on 29 carries.
Sylvan Hills started the next possession on its own 45. After a 20-yard pickup on the first play of the drive, the Bears ended up facing another fourth-down play from the Beebe 27.
After a timeout, Spears found Ahmad Scott on the right sideline and Scott made his way to the 6. A 3-yard run by Broner gave the Bears second and goal from the 3 and Spears took it in over the right side for the final score.
Sylvan Hills tried a conversion to make it a three-point game, but Spears’ pass attempt to Scott was incomplete.
After attempting just five passes in the first half, the Bears attempted 19 in the second.
“Our plan was to go to that all week, but we just kind of got away from it,” Withrow said. “We knew we needed to do that, so at the half we made a commitment to it, no matter what.”
Spears was 7 of 19 in the second half for 82 yards. Many of his incompletions were because of drops.
“I think our guys were just a little excited,” Withrow said. “We have guys that have caught a lot of passes for us this season, but they were just a little too excited.”
The Badgers began their final possession of the game on their 1-yard line with 54 seconds left after Spears’ punt was downed just outside the goal line. Beebe couldn’t move the ball past the 24, and Scott intercepted a final pass attempt as time ran out.