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By Dan Perrine
For The Record 

Bears rally to beat Cardinals


Last updated 9/11/2023 at 10:05am

LCM's Jackson Smith returned a kickoff 70 yards in the closing minutes of the game to setup the winning touchdown for the Bears against Bridge City

It took a big play by the special team for the Little Cypress Mauriceville Bears to pull out a thrilling win over their cross-county rival the Bridge City Cardinals. The Bears scored with less than two minutes to play to beat the Cardinals 30-23 at Battlin' Bear Stadium on Friday night.

The victory improves LCM's record to 2-1 on the season. Bridge City suffered its first loss to drop to 2-1 on the year.

The contest was exciting throughout with Little Cypress Mauriceville taking an early lead before Bridge City made a dramatic comeback to grab the advantage. The Bears made the final spectacular play with a long kickoff return that setup the winning touchdown.

The Cardinals received the opening kickoff and after a short drive punted to the Bears who started inside their ten yard line. Little Cypress Mauriceville executed a fifteen play drive that got the Bears on the board first.

J'Lynn Morris of the Bears gained 42 yards on their third play from scrimmage for a first down at the Bridge City 45. A holding penalty moved the Bears back to midfield before quarterback Dylan Payne hit Khayden Reed with a 12-yard pass to the 38.

Jonah Fuller gained a first down with a six-yard run. Another first was picked up on a short run by Morris.

A procedure penalty on LCM was overcome by a ten-yard run by Payne and his ten-yard pass completion to Reed at the Cardinal seven. A procedure penalty was called on the Bears which led to a 27-yard field goal attempt which Nick Smith booted through the uprights for a 3-0 Bear lead with 2:17 left in the first quarter.

The Cardinals answered with their own eleven play drive to tie the game. Cardinal quarterback Hutch Bearden ran for one first down and threw to Gavin Bodin for a second moving the ball to the LCM 45.

The next play appeared to be an interception for the Bears, but two flags were thrown on Little Cypress Mauriceville. Pass interference was called so no interception and roughing the passer was also ruled resulting in a first down for the Cardinals all the way to the Bears' 15.

Bridge City got inside the ten before the drive stalled. Victor Hernandez kicked a 28-yard field goal and the game was tied 3-3 with 9:05 remaining in the second quarter.

After an LCM punt the Cardinals took the ball at their eight. Bearden on third down had his pass deflect off a receiver's hands and was intercepted by Tucker Floyd of the Bears who returned the ball to the seven.

Two runs by Payne the first for six yards and the second for a yard netted six points for Little Cypress Mauriceville. Smith added the point after kick for a 10-3 Bears' lead with just over five minutes before halftime.

The Bears got the ball back after their defense forced a three-and-out by the Bridge City offense. Payne connected with Reed for a 39-yard completion on the first play moving the ball to the Cardinal 26.

Fuller helped move the chains with a run to the sixteen. A short completion was followed by a pass from Payne to Reed covering 13 yards and resulting in a touchdown. The point after was missed but the Bears had pulled ahead 16-3 with only 53 seconds remaining in the half.

Little Cypress Mauriceville's Braylon Lewis intercepted a pass that gave the Bears the ball with only 24 ticks left on the clock. A miracle or a disaster occurred on the next play depending on which sideline you were on as a screen pass thrown from the Bears was intercepted by Rayburn Hebert of the Cardinals and returned 48 yards for a touchdown which cut the lead to 16-10 before the half ended.

Looking to pad their advantage LCM moved the ball into Bridge City territory after taking the kickoff to start the second half. Fuller made a ten-yard run for a first down followed by a three-yard gain to the Bridge City 23.

Payne hit Kaden Boatman with a look in pass that would have been enough for a first down at the ten, but a Cardinal defender made a solid hit on Boatman jarring the ball loose. Bridge City recovered the fumble to spoil the LCM scoring threat.

The Bears got the ball right back after a punt and again drove deep into the Cardinals' end of the field. Payne ran for a first, threw for another, and appeared to run for a touchdown but the Bears were called for holding.

Reed caught his fifth pass of the game for 17 yards to give the Bears a first and goal at the eight. After a short run on the next play by Payne the Bears' Braydon Guillory was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty and was ejected from the game.

The penalty proved too much to overcome as the Bears threw an incomplete pass on fourth and goal from the 27. Bridge City used a facemask penalty on the Bears and a pass from Bearden to Abraham Mungia for 17 yards to move the ball near the fifty.

The Cardinals were forced to punt which was not a very deep kick until the ball started rolling. One of the Bears then inexplicably tried to pick the ball up with a couple of Cardinals right there who caused a fumble giving Bridge City the ball at the Bears' five yard line.

Two runs by Bearden and a procedure penalty on Bridge City setup a third and goal at the eight. Bodin ran a quick look in pattern and Bearden hit him with the pass perfectly for the touchdown. Hernandez's kick put the Cardinals in front 17-16 with 7:41 left in the game.

It was LCM's turn to respond and it did with a 76-yard drive in eight plays. Payne completed a big pass to Keagan Cockerham for 16 yards.

Fuller gained 24 yards on two rushes moving the ball into Bridge City territory. Payne and Cockerham connected again for a first down to the 27 of Bridge City.

Payne made his longest run of the night around left end for twenty yards to the seven. Fuller scored the touchdown from there to retake the lead for the Bears, but Payne was stopped on the two-point conversion keeping the score 22-17 with 5:21 to go in the game.

There was no quit in Bridge City. Bearden passed to Mungia for a first down and then scrambled 24 yards to the LCM 33.

The Bears got a sack on Bearden and two pass plays had the Cardinals looking at fourth-and-13 at the 36. Bodin was again the man as he sprinted past the Bears' secondary and Bearden dropped as pretty pass as even Tom Brady could throw into Gavin's hands for the touchdown. The point after was blocked so Bridge City owned a 23-22 lead with 3:16 showing on the clock.

The ensuing kickoff was pretty much straight away and was caught by the Bears' Jackson Smith at the ten. Smith raced through a big hole in the middle opened by his blockers and then cut to the left sideline before finally being hauled down at the Cardinals' twenty after his 70-yard return.

On first down Payne made his second key carry on consecutive drives taking the ball to a first and goal at the six. Two runs by Fuller got the ball closer before Payne found pay dirt from the two and then added two more points on the conversion to make the score 30-23 with 1:23 left in regulation.

The LCM defense decided that there was no more time for miracles. The Bears' Eddie Winters sacked Bearden and three passes from the Cardinal quarterback fell incomplete giving the ball back to the Bears who took a knee to end the game.

Dylan Payne contributed to the Bear victory with his arm and his legs. Dylan ran for 70 yards on 14 carries while rushing for two touchdowns and completed 15 of his 26 passes for 200 yards accounting for a third touchdown.

The number one target for Payne's passes was Khayden Reed with five catches for 91 yards and a touchdown. Keagan Cockerham and Kaden Boatman both had four receptions for 34 and 43 yards respectfully.

J'Lynn Morris and Jonah Fuller were important ground gainers for the Bears. Morris totaled 64 yards on 10 carries while Fuller ran the ball 11 times for 63 yards.

Hutch Bearden was the most active Cardinal with 15 totes of the ball for 11 yards. He passed the ball 21 times completing 13 for 132 yards and two touchdowns to Gavin Bodin.

The game against Bridge City was the first of five straight home games for Little Cypress Mauriceville over six weeks with the Bears off week also during that stretch. Next Thursday, September 14, the Bears play the Houston private school Kinkaid.

Bridge City will return home next Friday night to play another team like LCM from a higher classification. The Cardinals will play the Lumberton Raiders at Larry Ward Stadium.


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