Long Beach turned back two Vancleave possessions within the Bearcat 5-yard-line for its first win of the season, winning 14-7 on Friday night.
Eight seconds into the fourth quarter, Vancleave took over on its own 27. Kenny Goff connected on passes 39 yards and 15 yards to Xavier Bass, putting the Bulldogs at the Long Beach 8. However, two runs by Tristian Glass and an incomplete pass left Vancleave outside the endzone at the Bearcat 5.
On fourth down, Goff wanted to pass, but found a seam on the right side of the Long Beach defense. Jerunte King made the stop at the 1, As Goff went down, he stretched toward the goal line, losing the ball and fumbled into the endzone where Tim Duncan recovered for Long Beach (1-3).
Vancleave had a chance as Kanin Miller recorded two quick sacks of Cade Crosby. The second sack forced a fumble and gave Vancleave the ball at the Long Beach 1.
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“We should have scored from the 1,” said Vancleave coach Lavon Capers. “I made a mistake and they rose up.”
King and Tyson Callahan stopped the Bulldogs cold. Callahan started the second stand, dropping Hunter Williams for a two yard loss. King made the next two stops, each time pushing the Bulldogs back two yards.
On fourth-and-goal from the 7, Goff went back to pass, scrambled and found his way blocked by Callahan, who forced the second Bulldogs fumble deep in Bearcat territory. Cameron Williams fell on the ball for Long Beach, ending the last Bulldogs scoring threat.
“Both of them brought great pressure in the second half,” Bearcats coach Forrest Williams said of King and Callahan. “They gave us a good spark at the end. Those last two stands were great.”
The Bearcats avoided a 0-4 start to the season.
“The win feels very good,” he said. “We have made a lot of improvements since the first game. It’s good to see the results of hard work on the scoreboard.”
Vancleave still seek its first win after three games.
“We won’t give up,” he said. “We have to keep working and get ready to play next week.”
The Bulldogs took the opening kickoff and drove 47 yards on 11 plays, capped by David Capers 1-yard run. Vancleave converted four first downs during the drive, but the offense sputtered much of the rest of the night, with the Bulldogs getting only eight first downs over the rest of the game.
King led the Bearcats defensive charge with 13 stops. Jarius Warren added 11 stops.
Behind Tristan Glass, with 12 stops, and Capers with seven stops, the Bulldogs stymied the Bearcats. Crosby was 5-for-11 early for 91 yards, but penalties held Long Beach to just three first downs early.
Then, Crosby was knocked out of the game.
Jaidon Evans entered. Late in the second quarter, he connected with Tony Young on a fourth down pass to get inside the Vancleave 20. A fourth-down roughing-the-passer call gave Long Beach new life at the 17. Evans hit Young on a 3-yard TD pass. The PAT failed, but Long Beach had clawed its way to a 7-6 halftime deficit.
Crosby returned in the second half. He threw a 3-yard TD pass to J’Saylen Bankston and Evans on the 2-point conversion as the Bearcats went up 14-7.
Crosby finished 10-of-21 for 166 yards. Evans finished with six catches for 96 yards, Cropper added five catches for 81 yards.
Goff was 10-for-20 for 106 yards to pace Vancleave. Bass caught three passes for 61 yards and Miller finished with eight stops, including his two sacks.