Bengals Overcome Gremlins, Bearcats

Osei Thomas (21) pounds into the end zone from 3-yards out early in the fourth quarter. (Photo/Kristy Kimball Massey)

Osei Thomas (21) pounds into the end zone from 3-yards out early in the fourth quarter. (Photo/Kristy Kimball Massey)

ROCK HILL – It was a night of bad breaks and tough calls. Blocked kicks, muffed punts, untimely penalties and an even less timely turnover.

Yes, Week Zero had a little bit of everything, including a dramatic 94-yard kickoff return by Derambez Drinkard that proved to be the game winner for the Bengals, who found enough good amid the chaos to emerge with a 27-13 win over the Rock Hill Bearcats Friday night at District 3 Stadium.

“It was rough,” Blythewood head coach Dan Morgan said. “It was Week Zero. Everyone is still trying to get things corrected. It’s tough playing that early.”

Drinkard’s wild dash came just 15 seconds after the Bengal defense had blocked the extra point attempt by Rock Hill’s Zhenya Deller. The boot would have put the bow on a 19-yard touchdown pass delivered to Thailand Adams by Brandon Banks with 3:14 to go on the second quarter, and would also have tied the game at 7. As it was, the Cats found themselves down by a point, yet feeling a shift in a momentum that had been difficult to tame in the first half of the contest.

But Drinkard poured water on the Bearcats’ newly kindle flame when he took the ensuing kick at his own 6, headed up the middle, then broke to the far sideline. Drinkard darted behind the blocking wall, emerging on the far end of the field and breaking a handful of tackles before reaching the end zone.

“We kind of made a few breaks on special teams,” Morgan said. “That was the difference in the ball game. I think both defenses played fantastic. Both offenses at times looked good, but shot themselves in the foot more than anything. But really the difference was our special teams and our guys picked it up right at the opportune times.”

Blythewood opened the scoring on their second possession, but not without a little trickery. The drive, which had begun on their own 32, netted only a single yard after a mishandled snap turned a third-and-4 from the 38 into a fourth-and-9 from the 33. Jordyn Adams lined up to punt, but pulled the ball down and ran free to the Rock Hill 41.

The first down gave the Bengals new life. Quarterback David Isreal hit Kenny Benton at the Bearcat 7, setting up first-and-goal. Isreal did the rest on the next snap with the keeper over the left side.

“(Isreal) did a good job being elusive,” Morgan said. “He kept a lot of drives alive because of what he did. Any time you have a three-year starter back there in Week Zero it makes life a little bit easier on the coach.”

The Bengals took the 14-6 lead into the half and held the Cats off for much of the third quarter.

Blythewood’s defense and special teams delivered again late in the period when #17 scooped up a Banks fumble at the Rock Hill 22. That ultimately set Cody Turner up for a 32-yard field goal attempt, and the quirky breaks of Week Zero again took the field.

Turner’s kick was blocked and picked up by a Rock Hill defender. But before he could do any damage, he coughed up the ball, turning back over to the Bengals at the Rock Hill 10.

The Bearcat defense held firm, forcing another field goal try. This one, from 22-yards out, was as good as the previous attempt was bad, and the Bengals had a hard-earned 17-6 lead.

Special teams earned their moniker Friday night, putting the Bengals ahead, keeping them ahead and putting them in position to extend their lead. Midway through the final frame, Blythewood’s special teams struck again.

With just over 9 minutes to play, the Bengal defense briefly knocked Banks from the game and forced a Rock Hill punt on fourth-and-14 from the Bearcat 21. Daquan Patten fielded the punt at the Bengal 43 and absolutely smashed through the coverage all the way back to the Rock Hill 5. On second-and-goal, Osei Thomas gashed into the end zone from 3-yards out, boosting the Bengals’ advantage to 24-6.

The Cats scrambled back to life with 6:16 to play when Banks again hit Adams with a 39-yarder, cutting their deficit to 24-13. The score capped an 80-yard drive, but one that devoured more than 2 precious minutes from the clock.

And on any other night – a night when the Week Zero Gremlins hadn’t also suited up in the locker rooms – the 39-yard strike might have been Banks’ fourth TD toss of the night. But this was not any other night. A 59-yard TD pass from Banks to John McCullough that would have helped tie the game at 7 early in the second quarter was called back on a holding penalty. A second potential scoring toss to a wide-open McCullough late in the quarter slipped through the wide receiver’s fingers as he admired all the green grass and empty space between where he ran at mid field and the end zone.

The Bengals also had their fits with the Gremlins, but the beasts did no permanent damage. Four bobbled snaps were recovered by Isreal, and the turnover on downs ultimately cost them nothing. The defense held up when a shanked punt gave the Cats excellent field position early in the game, and later punting efforts were blessed with generous rolls.

“We just had so many opportunities to end it, but we just couldn’t do it,” Morgan said. “That was kind of the whole direction of the game – coulda, woulda, shoulda – for both sides, and it’s just nice getting away with a win because we did a few things right.”

With a 24-13 lead and 6:11 left in the game, Blythewood began milking the clock. Driving from their own 26, hammered away to the Rock Hill 13 before stalling out. Turner then delivered the final points of the game with a 30-yard field goal, leaving the Cats with just over 2 minutes to mount what would have to have been a most remarkable comeback.

Rock Hill got as far as the Bengal 35 before their steam – and the clock – ran out and the Gremlins vanished back up the tunnel.

Now Morgan is hoping those same Gremlins that pestered the Bengals all season last year are vanquished for good as they prepare for next week’s battle at Ridge View.

“There’s a lot of pressure on us this year to get out of the gate and get going quick,” Morgan said. “We struggled a little early, but we finished strong in the game and I think it’s going to carry over throughout the season.”

 

BHS: 7-7-3-10 – 27

RH: 0-6-0-7 – 13

Scoring

First Quarter

BH – David Isreal 7 run. Cody Turner kick. (1:35).

Second Quarter

RH – Thailand Adams 19 pass from Brandon Banks. Kick blocked. (3:14).

BH – Derambez Drinkard 94 kickoff return. C. Turner kick. (2:59).

Third Quarter

BH – C. Turner 22 FG. (1:13).

Fourth Quarter

BH – Osei Thomas 3 run. C. Turner kick. (8:34).

RH – T. Adams 39 pass from B. Banks. C. Turner kick. (6:16).

BH – C. Turner 30 FG. (2:09).

 

BH                                          RH

First Downs                        12                                           14

Rushes/Yards                    39-122                                   25-79

Passing Yards                     137                                         269

C-A-I-TD                               11-16-0-0                             24-38-0-2

Fumbles/Lost                      4-0                                          4-1

Penalties/Yards                   13-102                                   6-55

 

RUSHING: BH – Osei Thomas 23-77, David Isreal 14-12, Jeffrey Watkins 1-2, Jordyn Adams 1-26. RH – Timothy Sherer 10-52, Brandon Banks 10-9, Austin Bailey 1-3, Thailand Adams 1-(-2), Wes Trimmer 3-11.

RECEIVING: BH – Eric Webber 1-13, Trae Churn 2-33, Kenny Benton 4-33, Daquan Patten 1-15, Derambez Drinkard 1-8, Osei Thomas 1-17, Jordyn Adams 1-18. RH – Timothy Sherer 4-36, Antonio Hardy 7-87, Jonathan Muhammed 4-23, John McCullough 4-49, Thailand Adams 4-74, Austin Bailey 1-0.

PASSING: BH – David Isreal 11-16, 137 yards. RH – Brandon Banks 24-37, 269 yards, 2TD. Dre Robinson 0-1.

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