“You never know how a team is going to respond after a tough loss, but our guys got back right at it,” praised head coach Damon Floyd after his Bears put up 400 yards of offense and played strong defense in a 38-17 thrashing of East Ridge.
“We’ve got a big district game Friday against a hungry Rhea County team so we can’t let up now,” he added.
The Golden Eagles are only 1-3 on the season after suffering a 33-0 drubbing by fifth-ranked (Class 6A) Knox Bearden Friday. One of Rhea’s other losses came to top-ranked (Class 5A) Knox Catholic.
“Coach (Mike) Fitzgerald will have them ready to play,” Floyd proclaimed. “They have a good quarterback and running back, plus an aggressive defense.”
Now 3-1 on the season, Bradley’s lone loss was against a district opponent, while the Eagles only win came against a 5-AAA foe, putting them ahead of the Bears in the district standings.
Bradley Colbaugh got the Bears off on the right foot Friday night, blocking a Pioneer punt on the fifth play of the game. The senior captain snagged the lose pigskin, stiff-armed a would-be tackler Heisman Trophy style and raced into the end zone.
“We didn’t even have a block called but he got in there and got a hand on it, then picked it up and ran it in,” Floyd exclaimed. “Colbaugh is always making hustle plays like that. He really set the tone early for us.”
Not to be outdone, defensive end Tucker Bolton, another senior team captain, was in on all three tackles on the ensuing East Ridge possession, the latter pair being behind the line of scrimmage, forcing a 3-and-out punt.
The first Bear offensive possession didn’t last long as junior Justin Houston pulled in passes from sophomore quarterback Bryce Copeland on two of the four plays — the first for 17 yards and the second for a 43-yard touchdown.
Houston finished with 183 yards on 14 touches, the two receptions and a dozen rushes for 123 yards.
Senior fullback Dewaun Massengill had another strong night, bruising his way to 93 yards, the last three of which went for his fifth touchdown of the season.
“It’s hard for teams to handle the pounding of Dewaun and Justin’s quickness,” Floyd assessed. “That’s what makes them such a dangerous combination for us. Both can break tackles and make big plays from any point on the field.”
The Bear mentor also praised the hard work of his offensive line. “These guys have been doing a good job of opening the holes for Dewaun and Justin to go through.”
After falling behind 14-0 in the opening six minutes, East Ridge got a spark when Devante King out dueled a Bear receiver for the second of three Pioneer interceptions on the night and returned it 53 yards for a “Pick 6” with 1:40 to go in the opening frame.
Bradley answered with a 15-play drive that chewed six minutes off the clock. The march resulted in a 26-yard field goal off the foot of Clayton Steels. With a perfect 5-for-5 night on extra point attempts the freshman now has 18 points on the season.
The Bears quickly added to their 17-7 halftime lead in the third quarter. Getting pinned on their own 7 yard line on the opening kickoff, the Bears 1-2 punch made short work of the difficult situation.
Alternating, Massengill bulled for five yards on the opening play, Houston then picked up four, before Massengill tacked on five more.
On the fourth play, Houston really showed his talent, breaking a half dozen tackles and picking up a tremendous downfield pancake block from James Stovall, the speedster raced 79 yards to paydirt and his second score of the night.
The Bear defense, which only surrendered 32 yards of offense to the visitors in the opening half, set up the final two Black-and Gold scores of the night.
The first same after junior safety Korey Green stripped the ball from a Pioneer running back behind the line of scrimmage and Bolton pounced on it at the East Ridge 17.
Three plays later Massengill bulled in from the 3 and Steels split the uprights to push the lead to 21 with 8:47 to go.
After the two teams exchanged punts, Bradley defensive back Robert Bartolameolli picked off a Pioneer pass at the Bear 29.
Running the Bear second team offense, senior “jack of all trades” Chandler Bennett broke free on the second play for a 60-yard run. He then hit freshman Dee Crisp for a five-yard pass to set up freshman Logan Fetzner’s first varsity touchdown from 11 yards out.
Fetzner finished with 21 yards on five carries, while classmate Baylor Carroll gained 11 on a pair of rushes, pushing the Bear rushing total to 304 yards for the contest.
“We’ve got some talented freshmen pushing the starters for playing time,” Floyd expressed. “We don’t miss much of a beat when they are in there.”
East Ridge picked up a last minute score on the Bear second-team defense. A 42-yard kick return and a 41-yard pass play from Demetrius Bumpus to Aaron Sternes set up a 1-yard plunge by Bumpus with :57.5 showing on the clock.
The Pioneers, which have made the TSSAA playoffs 10 of the last 13 years, fall to 1-2 on the season. The victory gives the Bears a 9-7 edge in the series which dates back to 1975.
Note: Former Bradley Central head coach Terry Sweeney (1969-72) was on hand to honor his former player and assistant coach Bill “Chief” Robertson. During the halftime ceremonies, Robertson was presented with a Bear rocking chair and a sign signifying the renaming of the stadium’s south entrance as the “Coach Bill ‘Chief’ Robertson Bear Walk.”
The “Big Guy” has been a coach in the Bradley County system for 33 years, including eight years as head coach of the Bears from 1983-1990.
Before the current pigskin campaign began, Robertson announced this is his final season on the sidelines.
“Atta baby” and a hardy “AAEEEEE” for a job well done to all who worked so hard to give honor where honor is due to a man who has been such a positive influence on so many.
Soddy-Daisy (6A) 1-0 3-1
Cleveland (5A) 1-0 2-1
Rhea County (6A) 1-0 1-3
McMinn County (6A) 0-0 1-2
Bradley Central (6A) 0-1 3-1
Walker Valley (5A) 0-1 2-2
Ooltewah (6A) 0-1 2-2
Friday, Sept. 10
Walker Valley 35, McMinn Central 7
Bradley Central 38, East Ridge 10
Morristown-East 33, Cleveland 28
Knox Bearden 33, Rhea County 0
Soddy-Daisy 28, Red Bank 22
Franklin 28, Ooltewah 14
Maryville 41, McMinn County 0
Friday, Sept. 17
Rhea County at Bradley Central, 7:30
McMinn County at Cleveland, 7:30
Soddy-Daisy at Walker Valley, 7:30
Ooltewah does not play
Polk County (3A) 1-0 2-1
Sequoyah (4A) 1-0 2-2
Sweetwater (3A) 0-0 2-1
McMinn Central (3A) 0-1 0-4
Meigs County (3A) 0-1 0-4
Friday, Sept. 10
Polk County 48, Chattanooga Christian 27
Sweetwater 26, Greenback 21
Lenior City 28, Sequoyah 7
York Institute 34, Meigs County 12
Walker Valley 35, McMinn Central 7
Friday, Sept. 17
Sweetwater at Polk County, 7:30
Meigs County at McMinn Central, 7:30
Sequoyah does not play