“The bright spot is even though we’re complaining, we won by 18 (points),” declared Bear head coach Damon Floyd of the 37-19 District 5-AAA victory over visiting Rhea County. “Our play was very inconsistent, but we looked good enough in spots to win.”
“Our defense played well,” he added. “We only gave up two big plays, both of which they scored on, but we forced six three-and-outs. Jordan Timmons and LJ Goodridge had very good games.”
The Bradley defense had five takeaways (three fumble recoveries and a pair of interceptions), plus eight tackles for loss, including sacking the Eagle quarterback four times.
Linebackers Timmons and Goodridge each had a solo sack, plus combined on another, while defensive tackle Jackie Black and Goodridge paired up on the final sack.
“Offensively, we took what they gave us,” Floyd related. “They had good coverage on our receivers and were keying on our running backs, but they left the weak side open for Bryce (Copeland) to be able to run.”
Run the senior quarterback did, gaining 185 yards on 15 carries, three of which found paydirt. Copeland also completed 10 passes for another 82 yards, as he accounted for 78 percent of the Bear offense. In the 23-21 upset of Blackman the week before, he had accrued 326 (242 passing, 84 rushing) of Bradley’s 343 offensive yards for 95 percent.
The victory keeps the Bears (4-2, 2-0) unbeaten in district play, tying them with Cleveland (4-2, 2-0) for second place in the 5-AAA standings, a half game behind defending champion McMinn County (5-1, 3-0).
This Friday, Bradley will play host to Ooltewah (4-2, 1-2), which is coming off a 48-0 thrashing of Soddy-Daisy, while the Cherokees and Blue Raiders will clash at Benny Monroe Stadium.
The Bears actually got off to a strong start against Rhea County (1-6, 0-3) Friday evening, forcing a three-and-out on the opening possession and then needing just five plays to march into the red zone. However, a holding penalty negated a 16-yard touchdown run by DJ Moyse and the Bears ended up attempting a 39-yard field goal, which was blocked.
“We had several penalties at key times that cost us points,” proclaimed Floyd, whose Bears have drawn 19 yellow flags in the last two games. “If we go up 7-0 right there, then we’ve got the momentum and it could have been a very different game.”
Instead, Rhea County took over at own its own 32 and was able to work the ball across midfield in four plays. Junior quarterback Austin Dotson then hit Demitrius Patterson in the left flat and the speedy wide receiver juked and twisted his way 45 yards to the end zone for the game’s first score.
Bradley then lost four yards on its next three plays, but got a break when junior Austin Foss picked off an Eagle pass on the second play after the punt.
Taking over on the Rhea 39, after a pair of penalties on the visitors, Copeland ran for 18 yards on the first play. He then handed the ball off to junior Logan Fetzner on the next play and the junior tailback took it to the house from 21 yards out.
The Bears were able to come up with another turnover to stall the next Eagle drive when Timmons stripped the pigskin free while sacking Dotson and Goodridge scooped it up at the Rhea 30. Six plays later, Copeland carried the ball in from five yards out on the third play of the second quarter. Once junior Clayton Steels booted the extra point with 11:15 on the first half clock, the Bears never trailed again.
Late in the second frame, Rhea County was able to close the gap to a single point after a Bear mistake on a punt attempt gave the visitors the ball in the red zone. Five plays later Hunter Scoons scooted in from five yards out for the score, but the bad snap bugaboo hit the Eagles on the PAT, keeping them from tying the game.
The Black-and-Gold was able to get a little breathing room just before the half when junior Eduardo Trevino pounced on another Eagle fumble with just over 30 seconds remaining. Three plays later Copeland dashed in from seven yards out with 12.6 ticks on the clock. Steels made the advantage eight points with his third PAT.
Of the 56 points scored in the contest, only three came in the third quarter. After the Bears cost themselves another touchdown with a penalty on a 6-yard Copeland run, they had to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Steels with 2:39 left in the frame.
Four plays after the ensuing kickoff, Bradley forced another turnover. Timmons came up with the fumble recovery this time, but once again the Bear shot themselves in the foot with a holding penalty to negate a 28-yard Copeland run that would have moved them inside the red zone.
After a failed fake punt three plays later, Rhea took over on the Bear 47 and needed just three plays to find the end zone on a 26-yard screen plass to Desmond Sharp, cutting the difference to just five points with 10:21 remaining.
Bradley responded immediately when Copeland bobbed and weaved his way to paydirt on a 59-yard dash on the second play of the ensuing possession.
The Bears tacked on an insurance score five minutes later when junior Baylor Terrell scampered in from 10 yards out and Mason McCann put a cap on the scoring with the extra-point kick with 4:29 left on the clock.
Rhea County did threaten one more time, but had a 10-play drive halted when senior Deshawn McCleary pulled off an interception and Bradley was able to run out the clock.
The Bear defense gave up just 229 yards to the visitors, including only 75 on 34 rushes.
On the other side of the ball, Terrell finished with 68 yards, including a half dozen catches for 56 and 12 yards on a pair of carries.
Returning from an injured ankle that has hampered him since the second game of the season, Fetzner gained 61 yards on 14 rushes, plus he returned the opening kickoff of the second half 27 yards.
For Rhea, Patterson pulled in eight receptions for 89 yards, while Sharp gained 70 yards on 19 carries. Dotson completed 14-of-23 passes for 154 yards.
Rhea County 7 6 0 6 — 19
Bradley Central 7 14 3 13 — 37
RC — Demitrius Patterson 45 pass from Austin Dotson (Matthew Meeks), 5:33
BC — Logan Fetzner 21 run (Clayton Steels kick), 2:54
BC — Bryce Copeland 5 run (Steels kick), 11:15
RC — Hunter Scoons 5 run (kick failed), 2:02
BC — Copeland 7 run (Steels kick), :12.6
BC — Clayton Steels 30 field goal, 2:39
RC — Desmond Sharp 26 pass from Dotson (pass failed), 10:21
BC — Copeland 59 run (Steels kick),9:30
BC — Baylor Terrell 10 run (Mason McCann kick), 4:29
First downs 10 18
Rushes-yards 34-75 39-255
Passing yards 154 88
Total yards 229 343
Comp-Att-Int 14-23-2 11-28-0
Punts -Ave. 4-31.8 4-37.0
Fumbles-Lost 4-3 0-0
Penalties 8-75 8-67
Rushing: Desmond Sharp 19-70, Hunter Scoons 4-15 TD, Jeremy Moffett 5-12, Austin Dotson 5- (-19) (RC); Bryce Copeland 15-185 3 TDs, Logan Fetzner 14-61 TD, Baylor Terrell 2-12, DJ Moyse 4-7, Christian Hamilton 3-7, Clayton Steels 1- (-16) (BC).
Passing: Austin Dotson 14-23-2 154 2 TDs (RC); Bryce Copeland 10-27-0 82, Keith Wilson 1-1-0 6 (BC).
Receiving: Demitriius Patterson 8-89 TD, Tommy Blackburn 4-34, Desmond Sharp 1-26 TD, Jeremy Moffett 1-11 (RC); Baylor Terrell 6-56, Deshawn McCleary 3-20, Cal Pickel 1-6, JJ Haggott 1-6 (BC).
Records: Rhea County 1-6, 0-3 District 5-AAA; Bradley Central 4-2, 2-0 District 5-AAA.
High School Football
Team District Overall
McMinn County 3-0 5-1
Bradley Central 2-0 4-2
Cleveland 2-0 4-2
Ooltewah 1-2 4-2
Soddy-Daisy 1-2 2-4
Walker Valley 0-2 3-3
Rhea County 0-3 1-6
Friday, Sept. 28
Bradley Central 37, Rhea County 19
McMinn County 39, Walker Valley 8
Ooltewah 48, Soddy-Daisy 0
Cleveland had a bye
Friday, Oct. 5
Ooltewah at Bradley Central, 7:30
McMinn County at Cleveland, 7:30
Soddy-Daisy at Walker Valley, 7:30
Rhea County has a bye
Team District Overall
Polk County 2-0 5-1
Sequoyah 2-0 5-1
Sweetwater 1-1 5-2
McMinn Central 1-2 3-4
Meigs County 0-3 0-6
Friday, Sept. 28
Sequoyah 42, McMinn Central 21
Sweetwater 20, Meigs County 7
Polk County had a bye
Friday, Oct. 5
Polk County at Signal Mountain, 7:30
McMinn Central at Kingston, 7:30
Scott at Sequoyah, 7:30
Meigs County at Cannon County, 8
Sweetwater has a bye