Little Cypress-Mauriceville, Lumberton face off in battle of district leaders

Published 11:09 pm Friday, October 27, 2023

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The Little Cypress-Mauriceville Bears lost a crucial matchup to the Lumberton Raiders, 24-7, at Battlin’ Bear Stadium in Little Cypress on Friday night.

Both teams entered the contest unbeaten in district play, making it a must-win game to lock down what is likely be the top playoff spot in 4A-I District 10. Unfortunately for the Bears, Lumberton’s talented offensive attack proved to be too much.

“The story tonight was a lot of self-inflicted wounds,” LC-M head coach Eric Peevey said after the game. “Lumberton is a hell of a football team, so hats off to their coaching and the job they’ve done over there.”

LC-M received the opening kickoff and drove into the opponent’s territory. However, Bears quarterback Dylan Payne, who has been managing an injured shoulder over the past few weeks, was intercepted inside the 10-yard line.

A 70-yard pass by Lumberton quarterback Lucas Powell quickly brought the Raiders into scoring position before halfback Jaddon Ward found the end zone on a seven-yard run.

The Bears’ defense did create some highlights with an impressive goal-line stand on the next possession. Despite three rush attempts from the one-yard line, LC-M held the Raiders to a field goal.

However, Lumberton did score again on a 34-yard touchdown pass to begin the second quarter, which created a 17-0 lead.

Little Cypress-Mauriceville’s offense mostly sputtered throughout the first half. Payne found receiver Braxton Rambo wide-open downfield for a 50-yard gain to put the Bears inside the red zone. They failed to score on the opportunity, though, and missed a 37-yard field goal attempt following a fumble recovery by Tucker Floyd.

The Bears fell farther behind when Ward rushed for 65 yards to the one-yard line before another Raiders TD made it a 24-0 game.

Both teams suffered from turnover issues shortly after. Payne threw his second interception of the night, but the Bears got the ball right back when Justin McCarver intercepted an errant throw by Powell.

Just three plays later, LC-M coughed the ball up again with a fumble recovered by the Raiders.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Payne took a hit to his already-injured shoulder and was replaced by junior Evan Worster. He led Little Cypress-Mauriceville to the Bears’ only trip to the end zone and scored on a one-yard touchdown rush.

The Raiders ran the clock out, resulting in a 24-7 loss for the Bears.

Notably, Payne was taken to the hospital due to his injury. Peevey said he planned to go check on his quarterback immediately after the game. In the meantime, the team is praying for the best while also focusing on a next-man-up mentality.

“Evan is the starter next week,” Peevey said. “He’s gonna get all he wants and we’re gonna be behind him 100 percent. We know he can do it.”

Little Cypress-Mauriceville is now 3-1 in district play and sits in second place in the District 10 standings. The Bears conclude the regular season with a road date at Huffman next Friday.

— Written by Keagan Smith