Battered Bearcats fall in OT
by Bran Strickland
Oct 06, 2012 | 2057 views |  0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WEAVER — In overtime, both defenses did what they needed to do.

Both defensive special teams units did, too.

Cleveland just did it a little bit better.

After Weaver’s overtime field-goal attempt was blocked, Cleveland kicker Christian Collum adjusted at the last second for the Weaver rush and booted a high kick just inside the left upright for the 10-7 win.

“I had to turn my body there not to get it blocked,” Collum said. “I just had to make up for that (interception).”

Actually, he was making up for two. And neither one did much damage, they just took potential scoring opportunities away from the Panthers.

What hurt the Bearcats the most on the night, coach Daryl Hamby said, was being hurt.

Weaver was without the services of standout Chris English, and even quarterback Timothy Hawkins came out for two series limping.

He re-entered the game and sparked Weaver’s only scoring drive. It started with a reverse flip-back pass from Hawkins to Michael Homesley that went for 26 yards. Weaver stayed on the ground for the final 48 yards of the drive, with junior Brandell Massey taking it in from one yard out to tie the game with 7:39 remaining.

Hawkins finished 10-for-17 passing for 133 yards and two interceptions.

While the Bearcats were never down by any more than a touchdown, the metaphorical deficit was the worst.

“We just dug ourselves a huge hole in the first half,” Hamby said. “We played better in the second half, but it was just too many mistakes.”

And they seemed to strike at the most inopportune times.

After Fernando Forbes nabbed Collum’s first interception and returned it to the 8, a Hawkins pass on third-and-goal from the 3 was intercepted.

While that potentially took at least a field goal off the board, it was the mistake in overtime that loomed the largest.

The Bearcats were flagged on the first play in overtime. They gained only 3 net yards in their next three plays before Santiago Balma lined up for his 29-yard field-goal attempt.

Cleveland pressure came straight up the gut and the ball was blocked, giving the Panthers any score for the win.

Hamby said he’d have to review film before determining if it was his team’s rash of injuries that led the to the penetration, but it didn’t take film review to assess the overall problems the Bearcats had, all of which stemmed from injuries ranging from concussions to broken bones to ankle sprains.

Forbes finished as Weaver’s leading rusher with 12 carries for 64 yards. The third-string tailback to start the season, he was moved into a primary role when the injuries began to take their toll on the Bearcats.

While the first-half hole may have been metaphorical, the hole the loss leaves the Bearcats in approaches literal. Weaver is now 2-2 in Class 3A, Region 5 play, and that puts the Bearcats in the situation of having to win two or their next three to qualify for the playoffs.

“I hate the word ‘injury’ because it sounds like an excuse,” Hamby said, “but in the state we’re in, we don’t have room for mistakes.

“And we made too many mistakes tonight.”

Bran Strickland is the assistant managing editor for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3590 or follow him on Twitter @bran_strickland.

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