Some losses hurt more than others.
Losing to your No. 1 rival as Sherman did in its season-opener is disappointing, but losing a lead in the final two minutes against a team that many have picked to contend for its district championship was painful for the Bearcats at home on Friday night.
“The kids gave us a great opportunity to win in the fourth quarter,” Bearcats head coach J.D. Martinez said. “We came out there and gave it our best. Unfortunately we came up short.”
The Bearcats, after leading for most of the game and then losing the upper hand, regained an advantage with 10:22 left in the game on Blaise Bentsen’s second scoring toss of the night. But White Settlement Brewer replied with a marathon drive and scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:52 left, ripping way a 24-21 non-district win at Bearcat Stadium.
Brewer drove 65 yards and consumed 18 plays to take the lead with less than 2:00 left. The Bearcats (0-2) were forced to burn two of their timeouts during the drive to allow their defense to catch their breath.
To no avail, as Bears quarterback Carson Ingram found Jordan Goss open underneath for a short pass that turned into a 13-yard scoring play.
“The kids were giving it everything they got and the coaches were doing a good job using timeouts when we needed to and trying to keep our guys fresh,” Martinez said. “It was a third-and-13 and they called a screen, and it was a good call.”
The Bearcats had plenty of time to answer for either a win or overtime, and got a quick 22-yard completion from Bentsen to Mike Brown and then a Bentsen zone-read keeper up the middle across midfield.
But a false-start penalty and then a holding infraction on the ensuing play backed the Cats up. From the Sherman 42-yard line, an attempted reverse was fumbled, with Brewer’s Jeshaun Patton falling on it at the 32 to seal the verdict.
“Our kids were playing their butts off,” Martinez said. “We’re not explosive, and I wish we were an explosive offensive team, but we’re not. We’re a blue-collar team and we’ve got to go in there and block people out and be able to take care of stuff.”
Still, the Bearcats showed some offensive flashes. Brown led the team in rushing for his second game in a row with 89 yards ad wound up with 142 all-purpose yards, and Bentsen connected with Blake Steele twice for 93 yards and a score.
Bentsen, who struggled at Denison via the airways a week ago, was much more accurate this time, completing 6-of-10 for 163 yards, a pair of touches and an interception, and also added 70 rushing yards and a TD.
“We were able to do some things that were pretty good and I was happy with that,” Martinez said. “Hopefully we can build on those things.”
What could be looked at as bad omens for Sherman popped up as the night progressed. Threatening skies, which had they opened up would’ve favored the Bearcats, held off until well after the final horn. The play clocks malfunctioned early in the game; and to add injury to insult, an official was injured midway through the second quarter.
But still, the Bearcats grabbed an early lead, lost it in the third quarter, then claimed it right back.
Sherman opened the night on fire, both on offense and defense. The Bearcats needed fewer than two minutes to open the scoring on Bentsen’s sneak, helped by a 24-yard Brown run and a 20-yard strike from Bentsen to Steele down to just short of the goal line. The Cats’ defense didn’t allow the Bears to cross midfield until late in the first half.
The Bearcats drove for a 33-yard field goal try which was no good, then the game bogged down into a defensive fight until Benji Omayebu’s interception of a deep Ingram pass set up a quick 88-yard drive — a 15-yard Brown pickup, followed by Bentsen’s short pass to Steele along the left sideline and Steele’s 73-yard sprint to make it 14-0.
However, Brewer (1-1) seized the momentum before halftime. The Bears got on the board with 1:20 left on a Justin Davis run, then they opened the third quarter with a 32-yard field goal to cut Sherman’s lead to four points.
After a Sherman three-and-out, the Bears went on the move again and took their first lead of the game, 17-14, at the 2:41 mark of the third on a 27-yard pass play from Ingram to CJ Houston.
The Cats were three-and-out again, but got a boost from the defense on the opening play of the final frame when Ingram was hit in the backfield and linebacker Richy Clark pounced on the loose ball, putting Sherman in business at its own 42. Five plays later, Bentsen hit Brown from 20 yards out on a post pattern for a 21-17 Bearcat lead.
The good news is Sherman is still undefeated in district play — the Bearcats don’t play a loop game until Week 5 — and has a chance to break into the win column next Friday with homecoming against Frisco Liberty at 7:30 p.m.
“You just got to come out tomorrow and go to work,” Martinez said. “We’ve just got to continue getting better every day, and those days will turn into a week and hopefully, we’ll get those W’s coming our way. We’ve just got to keep working hard.”