Having played great in their two wins, Mr. Hyde has shown up when the Bears have faced a pair of state-ranked squads from Chattanooga.
“One game we’re executing great and the next we’re not,” declared Bradley head coach Damon Floyd after his squad suffered their worst loss since 2007 — a 41-7 defeat to seventh-ranked (4A) East Hamilton in Friday night’s home opener.
Like they had two weeks prior, in the Bears 34-12 loss at second-ranked (Division II) Baylor, turnovers proved extremely costly for the Black-and-Gold.
Bradley had four turnovers at Baylor and five Friday night, including four interceptions and a high snap over the punter’s head, giving East Hamilton (3-1) the ball on the Bear 16 to set up their first score.
“We gave them too many short fields,” Floyd bemoaned. “They’re (East Hamilton’s) stats weren’t really that great, but they didn’t have far to go to score. We held them to only seven rushing yards in the second half, but they still scored three touchdowns.”
Bradley’s two victories this season came over Polk County, 31-7 in the opener, and a 35-0 shellacking of Soddy-Daisy in its only District 5-AAA contest.
The Bears have a bye this week and will prepare to host Murfreesboro Blackman on Sept. 21. The Blaze are 3-1 on the season and scorched Signal Mountain 41-10 Friday night.
“We need an off week,” proclaimed Floyd. “We’ve got to find the problem and fix it quick. It’s a combination of things that went wrong. It’s very frustrating to look so good one week and then play like we did the next. One thing I know for sure is we can’t turn the ball over.”
The rest will also allow the Bears time to heal as one starter, lineman DJ King (knee), didn’t dress out Friday night and four others were hurt during the game — middle linebacker Jordan Timmons (concussion), leading tackling Alex Hopkins (shoulder), leading rusher Logan Fetzner (re-injured ankle) and tight end Caleb Cain (ribs).
Bradley’s problems started early Friday night when their first offensive possession got stalled at the Hurricane 46. After taking a delay of game penalty to gain a little more room to work with, Bear punter Clayton Steels boomed a 43-yard kick to the 7 yard line and senior Nate Mills nailed the East Hamilton return man as soon as he caught the ball to pin the visitors against their own goal line.
However, a yellow flag back near midfield negated the outstanding play and forced a second kick from the Bear 40. This time the ball was snapped over a leaping Steels’ head. By the time he corralled the loose pigskin it was at the 16-yard line.
Taking over from there, the Hurricanes handed the ball three straight times to standout running back Logan Jackson found paydirt from five yards out for the game’s first score with 4:57 on the first quarter clock. Jackson gained 106 of his 117 yards on the night in the first half.
East Hamilton took advantage of another Bear mistake midway through the second frame when a Bradley receiver didn’t run his full route. Hunter Parker picked off the pass and returned it 27 yards to put the Hurricane just 37 yards from the goal line. Jackson once again carried the load with runs of 11, 9 and 9 yards, but it was Dallas Hammond who carried the rock in from three yards out for his only carry of the night with 5:12 on the first half clock.
In one of their few highlights of the evening, the Bears responded quickly when on the third play after the ensuing kickoff senior quarterback Bryce Copeland threw a bomb to junior Dee Crisp who had gotten behind the ’Cane defenders. He reached back over his head, using both hands and his helmet to pull in the pass and race 77 yards for Bradley’s only score of the night.
The home side excitement was quickly quelled when East Hamilton returned the resulting kickoff to the Bear 47. Taking just three plays to score, Matt Milita weaved the final 18 for the six points. Bradley sophomore Derrick Murray was able to break through the line to block the extra point, making the halftime score 20-7.
Bear mistakes after the intermission once again set the visitors up for scores. Tre Herndon picked off a halfback pass on the sixth play of the second half, giving East Hamilton the ball at the Bradley 41. After giving up a first down, the host defense appeared to have the drive stopped but facing a fourth-and-seven, ’Cane quarterback Hunter Moore hit Tony Francois with a 22-yard strike for the score.
After a penalty and a sack contributed to a three-and-out on the ensuing Bear possession, Steels was forced to kick from his own end zone. Taking the ball at the 50, Parker returned the kick to the Bear 22.
After Jackson got nailed for a two-yard loss by Mills and Robert Bartolameolli, plus and incomplete pass, Moore found Cody Knox for a 24-yard scoring strike.
Bradley was able to move the ball into Hurricane territory on its next three offensive possessions, but turned the ball over on downs at the 24 the first time and then had a trick-play pass intercepted in the end zone on the second.
The game’s final score came on the third as the Bears were just outside the red zone when Austin Gatewood snatched the fourth ’Cane interception of the night and turned it into an 82-yard “Pick 6” with just a little over two minutes remaining in the game.
For the Bears, Copeland did complete 16-of-26 passes for 228 yards, while Crisp hauled in five of those passes for 133 yards and the lone score. Junior Cal Pickel also had five catches for 42 yards.
“We couldn’t get our running game established,” commented Floyd after the Bears were held to just 19 yards on 31 carries. “Once we got behind we had to pass more to try to catch up.”
East Hamilton 7 13 14 7 — 41
Bradley Central 0 7 0 0 — 7
EH — Logan Jackson 5 run (Cameron Carter kick), 4:57
EH — Dallas Hammond 3 run (Carter kick), 5:12
BC — Dee Crisp 77 pass from Bryce Copeland (Clayton Steels kick), 3:55
EH — Matt Milita 18 run (kick blocked), 2:52
EH — Tony Francois 23 pass from Hunter Moore (Carter kick), 6:44
EH — Cody Knox 24 pass from Moore (Carter kick), 3:57
EH — Austin Gatewood 82 interception return (Carter kick), 2:04
First downs 15 11
Rushes-yards 37-156 31-19
Passing yards 137 228
Total yards 293 247
Comp-Att-Int 9-14-0 16-29-4
Punts -Ave. 4-28.0 1-41.0
Fumbles-Lost 6-0 1-0
Penalties 5-40 4-33
Rushing: Logan Jackson 20-117 TD, Matt Milita 3-14 TD, Hunter Moore 5-12, Lamond Greer 6-11, Cody Knox 1-8, Dallas Hammond 1-3 TD (EH); Logan Fetzner 9-27, Baylor Terrell 7-9, Dee Crisp 1-8, Bryce Copeland 11-1, Keith Wilson 1- (-4), Clayton Steels 1- (-23) (BC).
Passing: Moore 9-14-0 137 2 TD (EH); Copeland 16-26-2 228 TD, Terrell 0-2-2 0, Wilson 0-1-0 0 (BC).
Receiving: Cody Knox 3-73 TD, Tony Francois 1-23 TD, Demetrious Goode 2-18, Jackson 1-17, Bailey Lenoir 1-9, Tre Herndon 1- (-3) (EH); Dee Crisp 5-133 TD, Cal Pickel 5-42, Terrell 3-23, Deshawn McCleary 1-15, Caleb Cain 2-11, Fetzner 1-5 (BC).
Records: East Hamilton 3-1; Bradley Central 2-2.