Published Friday, November 16, 2012
From Staff Reports
Gaining more than 275 yards and forcing three turnovers, the Coweta Recreation Department’s 11-12 year-old Bears proved that running the ball and stopping the run can be keys to not only a football victory, but a championship trophy.
On Thursday, the combination was too much for their opponents to handle in a 25-0 victory over the Browns to capture this year’s Coweta Recreation title at the Temple Avenue Complex in a game between a pair of 4-0 lineups to close the 2012 season.
(To view photos from this game, visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports / Football.)
Six runners from the Bears benefitted from their teammates’ blocking up front and the defense stopped the Browns three times inside their own 20-yard line by way of turnovers late in a closer game than the final score.
While keeping most of the momentum in their favor after scoring on consecutive possessions to open the game, the Bears clung to a 13-0 lead until the final five minutes.
Touchdown runs by Markel Bridges on a 5-yard gain that ended with a somersault into the end zone, as well as a 17-yard scamper by teammate London Snelling on a sweep off right end helped build a two score advantage for the Bears, led by coach Gene Harris.
In between, the Browns fumbled to close a 14-play drive that ended inside the Bears’ 20-yard line, with Jeremiah Prayor recovering the loose ball.
Ahead 6-0, the Bears marched 79 yards the other direction, getting fourth-down pickup off a reverse to Justin Bell to keep the drive alive. After another 20 yard gain, it ended from the Browns’ 17-yard line where Snelling broke free off the right end. Quarterback Cayden Herring’s extra-point run upped the lead to 13-0 with 33 seconds left in the first half.
With Browns running back Jefferson Page carrying a brunt of the load en route to an 86-yard effort on the ground behind a line including Jackson Choat, Tyler Hughie, Taylor McCally and Bayne Sample among others, the team desperately tried to close the gap after halftime.
The Browns drove the ball to the Bears’ 8-yard line late in the third quarter while getting a 35-yard gain from Page on the march. But the team was whistled on fourth-and-goal for a delay of game, one of six costly penalties, forcing the Browns to eventually turn the ball over on downs.
Still leading 13-0 heading into the final period, the Bears front line of Markel Bridges, Chandler Dutton, Darrell Griggs, Jacorey Harris, Sam Pfliger and Jeremiah Prayor didn’t let up. The group sprung Clifford Bridges on the first of his pair of huge runs in the fourth quarter.
His initial 41-yard carry helped push the ball inside the Browns 30-yard line. From there, the defense forced a long fourth-and-15 only to see Cayden Herring spring loose off the left sidelines to barely get past the marker for a first-down.
With new life, the Bears put the game out of reach on the first of two late scores by running back Romir Fowler, who stiff-armed a defender off the right side and scored untouched with 3:35 left to make it 19-0.
The Browns’ final drive inside the Bears 20 was highlighted by Jackson Coats’ bomb to teammate Enrique Norman to set up a first down. But two plays later, the Browns coughed the ball up for a third and final time.
After getting a final 30-yard run from Bridges to get the ball to midfield, Fowler ran out the clock on a game-ending touchdown to cap off a team-high 83-yard rushing effort.
Bridges finished with 71 yards while Markel Bridges (36), Herring (34), Snelling (23) and Justin Bell (36) each had at least 20 in the victory.
Matthew Castles finished with 16 yards rushing for the Browns.