The Long Beach football team would like to soon forget Friday night’s third quarter.
The Bearcats (5-2, 2-1) lost four fumbles to Wayne County (4-3, 2-1) in the third quarter with the War Eagles converting the first three into touchdowns on their way to a 49-42 overtime win over the Bearcats on Friday.
The War Eagles took the lead on the third fumble recovery of the third quarter at 35-28, but Long Beach would recover, scoring the next 14 points to regain the lead at 42-35 with 4:36 left in the game.
The Bearcats would pooch kick to the Bearcats, giving the visitors good field position at their own 41. The Bearcats gave up two first downs, but forced a 4th-and-6 with 2:08. The War Eagles would earn exactly 6 yards to move the chains and Zykerriun Wesley scored on a 5-yard carry with 36 seconds left in regulation After the PAT kick, the game was tied up at 42-42.
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The Bearcats went four-and-out on the their ensuing possession, leaving 3 seconds on the game clock for the visitors. The War Eagles went for it with a 20-yard pass for the go-ahead score. But Bearcats cornerback Derek Young outplayed the War Eagles receiver, coming down with the catch and returning it 60 yards before being forced out of bounds at the War Eagles’ 29 to end regulation.
The Bearcats took the first possession of overtime and failed to convert on a fourth-and-goal at the War Eagles’ 4 yard line.
The War Eagles closed out the game on their second snap of overtime as Jerronta Walker carried the last 6 yards for the win.
Long Beach led 28-14 before the four third-quarter fumbles.
“I told them at halftime that this game is not over,” Long Beach coach Forrest Williams said. “We came out and got a three-and-out which we needed, and then we fumbled the punt. We just couldn’t get out of our way at that point.
“I just told them that I was proud of them. We’re down 35-28, we tie it up, we take the lead to go up 42-35,” said Williams. “It came down really to that we couldn’t get that play that we needed. We had that fourth down measurement over there. We had the guy tackled in the backfield, and they get the first down by a ball length with about two minutes left. If I could point to one play that’s the crux: We didn’t make the play when we needed and the fumbles in the third quarter.”
The Bearcats got on the scoreboard first on their second possession of the game on a 5-yard Cade Crosby keeper for a 7-0 lead. The Bearcats drove the ball to the Wayne County 6 on their next possession, but an interception in the end zone ended the drive.
The War Eagles capitalized on the Bearcats’ error as Joshua Page’s 74-yard keeper and the PAT evened the game at 7-7 at the end of one quarter.
Dennis Andrews scored on a 5-yard carry to give the Bearcats a 14-7 lead. Page connected with ZaBryan Jackson for a 65-yard touchdown to even the game at 14-14 with 5:32 left in the second quarter.
Crosby capped the next possession with a 3-yard carry to regain the lead for the Bearcats at 21-14 with just over two minutes remaining in the first half. Arnage Caston closed out the first half scoring with an 80-yard punt return for the Bearcats to extend the lead to 28-14.
The Bearcats’ third quarter lost fumbles gave the War Eagles great field position at the Bearcats’ 21, 6, 16 and 33 yard lines. The War Eagles capitalized on the first three for their first lead of the game at 35-28.
“It’s just perseverance,” said War Eagles coach Todd Mangum of his team’s ability to overcome the halftime deficit. “You’ve got to play the next play. We always talk about the game being 48 minutes; sometimes it may take a little more than that. Tonight it did. It was perseverance.
“I told the defense when they went in to play overtime that you’ve got four plays; all you’ve got to play is four plays,” said Mangum. “We were able to get the ball and stick it in and score.”
Andrews led all rushers with 214 yards rushing and a touchdown.