Bridge City, Hardin-Jefferson put up lots of points during Hawks’ homecoming

Published 6:47 am Saturday, October 21, 2023

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SOUR LAKE ­– Offense, defense and special teams contributed points as the Bridge City Cardinals beat Hardin-Jefferson, 51-26, to spoil the Hawks’ homecoming celebration on Friday night.

After both teams traded possessions, the Cardinals struck first as quarterback Hutch Bearden scored on a 3-yard keeper to put Bridge City ahead, 7-0, following the extra point by Victor Hernandez.

The Bridge City defense forced the Hawks to punt on its next possession, and it was the Cardinals special teams unit that scored next as Abraham Mungia scored on a 55-yard punt return to give Bridge City a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter.

The game felt as if it might get out of hand, but Hardin-Jefferson squashed that notion on a 60-yard drive that only took 2:13 off the clock as running back Judah Wheaton zig-zagged his way through the BC defense for a 15-yard touchdown run to cut the Cards lead in half, 14-7.

Both teams traded possessions, but it was the Cards defense that answered next as Ayden Richardson blocked the Hawks punt out of the back of the end zone for a safety and a 16-7 Cardinals lead.

Quarterback Hutch Bearden and the Cardinals offense wasted no time in lighting the scoreboard up again, as the BC offense took the free kick and moved the ball 55-yards in 7 plays, while eating up 3:11 off the clock and a 24-7 lead following the two point conversion.

With only 1:28 left in the first-half, the Hawks took possession at their own 40-yard line. That was plenty of time as the HJ offense needed one play to score on a 60-yard, reverse flea flicker pass from quarterback Bryndyn Lee to running back Wyatt Samaha, who had gotten behind the Cardinals defense.

The two point attempt failed and BC led, 24-13.

Bearden and the Cardinals offense decided to get aggressive with 1:06 left on the clock and it paid off. Bearden connected on three of four passes, including the 25-yard touchdown to receiver Gavin Bodin with 39 seconds left in the half, putting Bridge City ahead, 31-13 at the break.

Hardin-Jefferson only needed two plays to score on its first possession of the third quarter as Lee found Wheaton open on a 36-yard scoring strike to make the score 31-19 Cardinals.

The Hawks forced a turnover on downs on the next Bridge City possession, but the Cardinals defense responded with a scoop-and-score.

Defender Jagger Carlin picked up the loose ball and outran everyone for a 25-yard fumble return for a touchdown to extend the Cardinals’ lead to 38-19.

The Hawks were not going to go away easily. On the ensuing kickoff, returner Samuel Jones caught the ball and zipped through the Cardinals kickoff coverage for a 72-yard touchdown, putting the momentum back to the Hawks, who trailed 38-26.

The game was stopped for several minutes on Bridge City’s next possession as receiver Gavin Bodin was injured after he collided with the play clock outside of the back of the end zone.

He was tended to by medical personnel for many minutes before being placed on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to a local hospital.

Once the game resumed, the Cardinals added two more scores in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.

Jamel Charles scored on a 25-yard run and Aras added another 1-yard touchdown to give Bridge City a 51-26 victory.

The Cardinals offense rolled up 373 total yards for the game. Bearden passed for 133 yards as he completed 10 passes on 16 attempts and one touchdown, while rushing for 29 yards on 13 carries and another touchdown.

Aras carried the ball 16 times for 137 yards on the ground as well to lead all rushers on the night.

The Bridge City defense held the Hawks ground game to just 60 yards on the night, but allowed 262 passing yards. The defense did manage four sacks and one interception of Lee.

— Written by By Tommy Mann Jr.