Battlin’ Bears earn third with thrilling OT win in Navasota
By Ronnie Hughes
NAVASOTA — Texas High School football has seen 11 weeks of football come and go; leaving some teams looking ahead to the post season and others clearing out their lockers until next season.
Fortunately for the Little Cypress – Mauriceville Bears they’ll extend their season after finishing their regular season schedule with three consecutive wins. Friday night the Bears downed the Navasota Rattlers 42-41 in double overtime to roll into the playoffs as the third seed in District 10-4A Division I.
The Bears (5-5, 3-2) were able to overcome three turnovers with a 396-yard offensive performance led by Chris Winters who notched four scores on the night.
Navasota (2-8, 2-3) elected to receive the opening kickoff but quickly went three-and-out and was forced to punt to LC-M setting the Bears up close to mid-field. Fortunately for Navasota, Bear running back Chris Winters would cough up the ball on the fourth play from scrimmage. Eric Lattimore scooped up the fumble and returned it for a Navasota touchdown to give the Rattlers an early 7-0 advantage.
The Bear offense settled down on their next possession opening up with a couple of solid runs from Winters for a first down. The Bear rushing attack quickly opened up the pass game with Beau Bickham finding Keagan Sonnier on a deep slant for a 42-yard gain to set the Bears up with a first down just outside the red zone. Winters capped the drive five plays later, dipping in from three yards to tie the game at seven. The Bears chewed up just over five minutes on the 81-yard drive.
The two squads exchanged blows throughout the night. The Rattlers answered back quickly to regain the lead. After converting a fourth down and long, quarterback Jeb Malek found a hole in the Bear defense to sprint in for a 25 -yard touchdown. The Rattlers led 14-7, with 1:47 left in first quarter.
A balanced offensive attack by the Bears proved successful on the next series as four pass plays along with four run plays were enough to catapult the Bears into the end zone to knot the game at 14 each. Winters scored his second of the night on a four-yard dive.
LC-M defense would halt the Navasota attack on the next series to quickly usher the offense back onto the field. The Bears held the usual hot-handed Malek, to a paltry 5-of-20 passing for just 69 yards.
The Bears took over at their own 38 following a Rattler punt. Following two failed rush attempts for positive yards the Bears were faced with a third- and 10. They converted the third down on a big time pass and catch from Bickham to Trey Guillory for 24 yards that sparked the offense. J’lon Douglas powered his way into the end zone from 11 yards out two plays later to give the Bears a 21-14 lead heading into the half. The Bear defense held the Rattlers to 75 yards in the first half of play.
The turnover woes continued for the Bears to open the second half. They would fumble the opening kickoff to give the Rattlers the ball at their own 24 yard line. It took just 35 seconds and four plays for Keyondrick Phillio to rumble in from four yards out to again tie the game.
The Bears offense kept firing on all cylinders with Bickham going four-for-five passing on the next series; driving 46 yards on seven plays with Winters tiptoeing in from three yards out. The Bears once again nabbed the lead away from the Rattlers leading 28-21 with 8:14 remaining in third. Bickham finished the night 12-of -24 for 164 yards passing and one interception.
Following another stellar series by the Bears defense and forcing the Rattlers to punt, the Bears would once more hand the Rattlers another opportunity. Bickham attempted a screen pass to Guillory, but Rattler cornerback Daytron Taylor jumped the route and intercepts the pass, returning it 75 yards for a touchdown. The two teams were tied 28-28 with 5:38 remaining in the third quarter.
The LC-M offense regrouped once more to put together a solid drive with Douglas zipping off the right side for a 17-yard touchdown run, but with just over 11 minutes left in regulation the Rattlers had plenty of time to answer back. Both Douglas (119) and Winters (118) rushed for over 100 yards on the night with Douglas chipping in two scores of his own.
The Rattlers answered the call, but it came two possessions later before they tied the game. Malek hit Deeldre Richardson for a 43-yard touchdown strike with 1:37 remaining in regulation that ultimately sent the game into overtime tied at 35 apiece.
The Bear defense came up huge in the first overtime holding the Rattlers without a score, but the Bear offense would also sputter and keep the game tied forcing a second overtime. The Bears got the ball first in the second O.T. and did what they do best. They rammed the ball at the Rattler defense to eat up huge chunks of yards then gave it Winters to polish off the drive with dive play from four yards out to lead, 42-35. The Rattlers came right back with their own game plan that called for more of an aerial attack. Malek again found Richardson; this time for a 12-yard strike in the corner of the end zone. Things got tight at the end which made for a wild finish. The Rattlers nailed the extra point attempt, but the Bear defense was called for roughing the kicker which moved the ball to the one yard line. Instead of declining the penalty and taking the for-sure third overtime the Rattlers chose to accept the penalty and gambled with a two-point conversion attempt. The Bear defense stacked up the middle and shoved Phillio back four yards to end the long-winded affair with an LC-M victory, 42-41.
The Bears finish a stellar regular season with plenty of momentum heading into the post season as the third seed. The time and location of the bi-district round of the playoffs are still to be determined.
LC – M 14 7 7 7 0 7 42
Navasota 7 7 14 7 0 6 41
Navasota 10:15 1st – Lattimore 42 yd fumble return xp good
LC-M 5:21 1st – Winters 3 yd run xp good
Navasota 1:57 1st – Malek 25 yd run xp good
LC-M 9:28 2nd – Winters 4 yd run xp good
LC-M 4:48 2nd – Douglas 11 yd run xp good
Navasota 11:32 3rd – Phillio 7 yd run xp good
LC-M 8:14 3rd – Winters 4 yd run xp good
Navasota 5:38 3rd – Taylor 75 yd interception return xp good
LC-M 11:01 4th – Douglas 17 yd run xp good
Navasota 1:37 4th – Richardson 43 yd pass from Malek xp good
LC-M OT2 – Winters 4 yd run xp good
Navasota OT2 – Richardson 12 yd pass from Malek two-point conversion no good END GAME
First downs 17 14
Rushes-yards 57-264 30-122
Passing 164 69
Comp-Att-Int 12-24-1 5-20-0
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 0
Penalties-yards 5-50 4-30
Rushing LC-M – Winters 31-117, Douglas 21-118, Bickham 4-17, Williams 2-14
Navasota – Phillio 22-84, Malek 4-24, Jones 2-9, McGinty 1-7
Receiving – LC-M Sonnier 3-72, Guillory 4-50, Brown 2-22, 3-20
Navasota – Richardson 2-49, Lattimore 1-7, Walker 1-5, Jones 1-2
Passing – LC-M Bickham 12-24-164
Navasota – Malek 5-20-69yd-2td