Explosive offense not enough for Bears

By JOE CANNON
Posted 8/25/19

More than 500 yards of total yardage, including four touchdowns from 50-plus yards out, excited the Bear Nation Friday night, but once again Farragut spoiled the season opener.

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Explosive offense not enough for Bears

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More than 500 yards of total yardage, including four touchdowns from 50-plus yards out, excited the Bear Nation Friday night, but once again Farragut spoiled the season opener.

"They've beaten us in the opener a few times now (three straight) and we've gone on to have successful seasons (17-7 the last two years with TSSAA playoff berths in both)," declared veteran Bradley Central head coach Damon Floyd after his team blew a pair of 13-point leads in a 37-30 heartbreaking outcome.

"We just weren't executing. The good thing is we hung with a very good team (Farragut is ranked 10th in the state preseason poll). We had a chance to win," Floyd said.

"We're not playing very well and that's on me. We did not look very well-coached tonight," he said, falling on the proverbial sword.

"It was a loss in the column, but this can't dictate our season. It wasn't a region loss. It is what it is at this point and it's a long season. We'll learn from it and work hard to improve.

"It's about getting better at this point. I've got to make sure we do a better job of executing the fundamentals," Floyd added. "That's a tough one (game) to let get away."

The explosive Bear offensive output, plus a program record 97-yard kick off return for a TD, was countered by 15 penalties for 165 yards, plus four turnovers.

Bradley will have to refocus in a hurry with a trip to Charleston on tap for the annual "County Conflict" against Walker Valley, which is riding high after snapping a 13-game losing streak with a 42-40 win at Karns in its season opener.

The Burke brothers, twins Javin and Javon, exploded in their Bear debuts Friday, combining for 434 of Bradley's 580 total yards (rushing, passing, kick returns).

Javin gained 165 yards on 15 carries, plus completed 10-of-23 passes for 117 yards. The 6-foot, 200-pound junior transfer from McCallie broke free on scoring runs of 56 (third quarter) and 53 yards (second quarter).

Meanwhile, his even speedier sibling, who came over directly from Cleveland High where both played as freshmen, accounted for the first Bear points of the season when he answered Farragut's first score by returning the ensuing kickoff 97 yards to pay dirt.

Ironically, Javon broke the record set by Dionte Lindsey — Coach Floyd had said Javon was the fastest Bear since Lindsey's playing days. Lindsey had set the mark at 96 yards in 2008 against in a loss to Oak Ridge.

Javon had a total of 140 yards on a trio of kick returns, plus 12 yards on three rushes and three receptions from his brother.

Returning 1,100-yard rusher Ricky McCleary opened his senior season with a bang breaking free for a 73-yard scoring jaunt on his fifth carry on the night as the clock ran out on the opening quarter. He finished with 128 yards on 17 rushes.

Junior Kanon Hall made a strong first Friday night impression with 71 yards on a trio of catches and a pair of kick returns. He transfered over from Polk County after his freshman season and, like the Burkes, was limited to junior varsity play last year before becoming varsity eligible.

Senior Saylor Clark helped out with three receptions for 46 yards, while classmate Ashton Boyd had a key 17-yard catch for a first down. The Admiral defense kept highly-recruited Tray Curry bottled up all night with double coverage.

Defensively, Bradley was led by senior safety Tucker Still and junior linebacker Kam Arrowood with 10 total hits apiece. Still made eight solo tackles and a had pair of assists, while Arrowood took down seven ball carriers by himself and helped out on a trio of other tackles.

Senior cornerback Davion Horton picked off a pair of interceptions, the first leading to a Bear touchdown five plays later. The other he returned 64 yards, but a penalty negated the good field position.

"Davion got two interceptions, and return the second one inside the (Farragut) 15, but we have a peel back block penalty 20 yards behind him. That puts us on our own 36 and we weren't able to score off it. Penalties killed us," bemoaned Coach Floyd.

After turning the ball over eight times against the Admirals in a 34-0 loss to open last season, Bradley was able to cut that number in half (two interceptions, two lost fumbles), but it wasn't enough.

"You can't give a team like Farragut extra chances," the Bear coach commented earlier this week.

The boys from Knoxville turned the first three miscues into points and the final one came on a desperation fourth-down play that allowed the visitors to take a knee twice to run out the clock.

"We throw one behind the line of scrimmage that's ruled a lateral and a fumble. They (Farragut) pick it up and run it back to the 2 (yard line) and get 7 (points) off it," Floyd said.

"You've got to give Farragut a lot of credit. The way their kids hung in there and battled and didn't bow their heads. I felt like we should have been up 35-7 at the half, but our mistakes hurt us.

"They (Farragut) came out in the second half and took it to us. We should learn something from that about their character. That's why their program is where it's at. Very well coached with tough kids that don't give up," he assessed.  

"We lost our composure out there a lot, including myself. We gave it away. We need to get better. 

"We didn't know who was going to be their running back, but he (Matt White) runs hard," remarked Floyd of the 6-foot, 180-pounder who normally plays wide receiver, finished with 175 yards and a pair of TDs on 26 carries.

"We had some shots in the backfield and we didn't make the tackles. You hope to make those tackles when you get in untouched."

Bradley-Farragut
Game Summary
Friday, Aug. 23
Farragut 7 7 10 13 — 37
Bradley Central 13 10 7 0 — 30
First Quarter
F — Matt White 4 run (Simeon Sharp kick), 4:23
BC — Javon Burke 97 kickoff return (Isaac Vaughn kick), 4:08
BC — Ricky McCleary 73 run (kick failed), :00
Second Quarter
BC — Javin Burke 53 run (Vaughn kick), 9:56
F — Gabe Hensley 1 run (Sharp kick), 6:19
BC — Vaughn 28-yd field goal, :07.2
Third Quarter
F — Sharp 22-yd field goal, 5:21
BC — Javin Burke 56 run (Vaughn kick), 2:32
F — Hensley 2 run (Sharp kick), :07.7
Fourth Quarter
F — Alec Keathley 36 pass from Gavin Wilkinson (Sharp kick), 10:04
F — White 8 run (pass failed), 7:39

Game Stats
F BC
First Downs 18 20
Rushes-Yards 34-215 37-300
Passing 164 117
Total Yards 392 417
Comp-Att-Int 12-24-2 10-23-2
Punts-Avg. 5-39 4-34.0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-2
Penalties-Yards 7-80 15-165

Individual Stats
Rushing: Matt White 26-175 2 TDs, Dion Williams 4-23, Gavin Wilkinson 2-12, Gabe Hensley 2-5 2 TDs (F); Javin Burke 15-165 2 TDs, Ricky McCleary 17-128 TD, Javon Burke 3-6, Tray Curry 1-3 (BC).
Passing: Gavin Wilkinson 12-24-2 164 TD; Javin Burke 10-23-2 117 (BC).
Receiving: Alec Keathley 6-77 TD, Hunter Shopovick 3-53, Isaiah Arrington 1-25, Carter Nussbaum 2-9 (F); Kanon Hall 3-48, Saylor Clark 3-46, Ashton Boyd 1-17, Javon Burke 3-6 (BC).
Records: Farragut 1-0; Bradley Central 0-1.

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