Numerous 4th quarter lead changes highlight Little Cypress-Mauriceville, Bridge City showdown

Published 11:57 pm Friday, September 8, 2023

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The Little Cypress-Mauriceville Bears survived a nail-biter Friday night, defeating the Bridge City Cardinals, 30-23, at Battlin’ Bear Stadium in Little Cypress.

The Bears may have entered the night as the favorites, but they couldn’t take anything for granted against a scrappy Bridge City team.

“That coaching staff has done an amazing job with that team,” LC-M head coach Eric Peevey said. “Hats off to those guys and hats off to our own players. We just overcame, and I’m really proud of them tonight.”

On LC-M’s first drive, sophomore halfback J’Lynn Morris ripped off a 42-yard rush to begin a long drive. 14 plays and 90 yards later, the Bears put up the first points of the night with a field goal.

The Cardinals found themselves inside the red zone early following a pass interference call against the Bears. Bridge City settled for a field goal of their own, tying the game at 3-3.

On their next drive, a pass from quarterback Hutch Bearden was tipped and intercepted by LC-M linebacker Tucker Floyd inside BC’s 10-yard line.

The Little Cypress-Mauriceville Bears take the field before a Week 3 matchup with Bridge City. (Keagan Smith/The Leader)

The Bears capitalized on the turnover to take a 10-3 lead — quarterback Dylan Payne punched in a rushing touchdown at the goal line.

Little Cypress-Mauriceville surged further ahead near halftime as Payne connected with Khayden Reed for a 13-yard touchdown pass. The PAT fell short, leaving the Bears up 16-3.

With under a minute until half, Payne threw an interception of his own, which was returned 46 yards for a pick-six by Bridge City’s Rayburn Hebert.

Little Cypress-Mauriceville held a 16-10 lead at the intermission, totaling 166 first-half yards compared to just 82 for the Cardinals.

The Bears nearly scored to begin the second half, driving to their opponents’ 5-yard line before losing a fumble that was recovered by the Cardinals.

LC-M’s defense forced a three-and-out and the offense pushed into the red zone again, but a costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and another fumble prevented more points on the scoreboard.

Bridge City took possession to begin the fourth quarter. The Cardinals neared midfield before being forced to punt, but an error by LC-M’s returner resulted in a live ball. It was pounced on by Luke Williams — meaning the Cardinals maintained possession.

Bearden threw an 8-yard touchdown to Gavin Bodin, giving Bridge City its first lead of the game at 17-16.

It was one of four lead changes in the final quarter of play. Little Cypress-Mauriceville needed just two minutes to score its next touchdown on a 7-yard rush by Jonah Fuller.

Trailing 22-17 late in the game, Bridge City’s offense finally seemed to click. They pulled back ahead as Bodin scored his second touchdown of the game on a 36-yard reception. The two-point attempt was stopped, leaving BC ahead, 23-22.

However, the celebration on the Bridge City side didn’t last long. LC-M’s Jackson Smith returned the kickoff 70 yards to set his team up inside the opposing 30. With a minute and a half remaining, Payne rushed for a two-yard touchdown, also converting the two-point attempt.

The Bears’ defense held strong to end the game — they forced three incompletions and defensive lineman Eddie Winters produced a crucial sack as LC-M survived with a 30-23 victory.

The Bears finished with nearly 370 yards of offense, and despite some issues with ball security and penalties, they’ll certainly take the win. They’re now 2-1 and will face the Kinkaid Falcons at home next week.

As for the Cardinals, they showed a tremendous amount of fight against a tough opponent and have already surpassed some fans’ expectations. Their record is now 2-1 ahead of a home meeting with the Lumberton Raiders next Friday.

— Written by Keagan Smith