Cardinals looking for 48-minute effort against LC-M after holding off Buna

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, September 7, 2022

BRIDGE CITY – After snagging their first victory of the season and doing it the first time they played a real game on new turf at Larry Ward Stadium, the Bridge City Cardinals are continuing to look at ways to improve.

It was quite the battle between the Cardinals and Buna Cougars last Friday night at Larry Ward Stadium.

In a tale of two halves, it was the Cardinals who had just enough left to hold on for a 23-20 victory.

The Cardinals (1-1) led 23-6 at the half before the Cougars (0-2) rallied in the second half.

“It was great to get that first ‘W’ for sure,” said Cardinals head coach Cody McGuire. “It was nail-biting at the end. The crowd was great and it was loud almost the whole game. We need that same support this week, too.”

Buna actually outgained the Cardinals 366-307 on the night with 255 of their yards coming in the second half. However, the Cardinals defense rose up to make key stops down the stretch to nab their first win of the season.

“We gained a lot of confidence in the second quarter but we came out flat to start the second half,” said McGuire. “We still have not put together a full 48 minutes, and this was a good wakeup call for the kids. We’re really going to stress that in practice this week.”

Bridge City scored all 23 of its points in the second quarter and looked to be in command before Buna opened up a big passing attack after intermission.

“It’s a win and we’ll take it, but we were fortunate some because of all the mistakes we made,” said McGuire. “We’re still a young football team but we made some miscues that we shouldn’t make after two scrimmages and a game. We made some key stops late to keep Buna out of the end zone but we should have put the game away a little earlier. We’ve got to learn how to finish.”

Now the Cardinals are turning their focus to a very solid Little Cypress-Mauriceville team.

“LC-M has a lot of talent on both sides of the ball,” said McGuire. “They have a lot of speed and size and have a lot of kids back from their playoff run last season. We’re going to have to limit mistakes, like turnovers and penalties and get a complete game from everybody. It should be a great atmosphere. LC-M brings a huge crowd, and I know we will, too. We’re looking forward to a good game. We’ve got two more left before district starts, so we want to be ready and firing on all cylinders when district starts.”

Sophomore quarterback Hutch Bearden completed 6-of-13 passes for 108 yards and rushed for 53 yards on 19 totes against Buna. Senior running back JS Bearden bruised his way to 111 yards on 13 carries. Cardinals receiver Gavin Bodin hauled in five receptions for 94 yards.

The Cardinals piled up 228 total yards in the first half and limited Buna to 111.

“We moved the ball well in the first quarter but couldn’t cash in,” said McGuire. “The second quarter, the kids played great. We moved the ball on three good drives and punched it in, and the defense was clicking, too. We didn’t have that same fire when we came out in the second half, and the kids realize that now. They know they have to play four full quarters. When we can do that, we can be pretty good.”

After stalling deep in Buna territory on their first two drives, the Cardinals were able to cash in on their third series.

The Cardinals motored 57 yards in seven plays to get on the scoreboard early in the second quarter.

Bearden connected with receiver Noah Broussard on a 14-yard strike to the Cougar 40.

Bearden followed with a nice keeper on the next play, going 20 yards to the Buna 20. Facing third-and-3 from the 13, Bearden handed off to brother JS Bearden, who bulldozed his way straight up the gut for a 13-yard touchdown. Victor Hernandez drilled the extra-point, giving the Cardinals a 7-0 lead with 8:10 left in the half.

After holding the Cougars to a quick three-and-out, the Cardinals kept churning on their next series, finding the end zone again after a seven-play, 48-yard scoring drive.

Bearden completed two passes for 22 yards to receiver Gavin Bodin. Bearden broke off a 14-yard run on a keeper and followed with another eight-yard gain to the Cougar 3 and JS Bearden capped it off with his second touchdown of the night, going off tackle from three yards out, pushing the lead to 14-0 with 4:19 in the half.

Buna answered nicely with a five-play, 61-yard scoring drive of their own. Marse had a 15-yard screen pass to Johnson on third-and-6, which moved the ball to the Cardinal 42. Two plays later Marse found a streaking receiver in Gavin Theriot down the left sideline and hit him in stride for a 27-yard touchdown toss.

However, Bridge City standout linebacker Mason Pruitt blocked the extra-point attempt and zipped all the way to the other end zone to score two points, putting the Cardinals up 16-6 with 2:11 in the half.

The Cardinals kept the Cougars reeling as they got the ball and scored quickly in three plays. Bearden hit Bodin over the middle and the lanky receiver got loose down the right sideline for a 48-yard gain to the Cougar 15. JS Bearden carried for nine yards to the 6, and Hutch Bearden capped it with a six-yard dart touchdown dart right up the middle, making it 23-6 with 1:21 in the half.