Southeast Texas News Group
The Little Cypress-Mauriceville Battlin’ Bears righted the ship and will head into the postseason on the strength of a narrow 17-13 win against the Vidor Pirates at Pirate Stadium Friday night.
The Bears wrapped up the third-place spot out of District 20-4A, qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 1997.
LC-M will take on the Dayton Broncos in the Class 4A Region III Division II playoffs next week.
“This was a big win for our boys, coaches, and community.” said LC-M coach Randy Crouch. “It has been 17 years since we have been to the playoffs and we are proud of what we have accomplished.”
The Bears (5-4, 5-2) took control of the game right out of the gate, possessing the ball all but 1:26 of the first quarter. After the opening drive ended with a missed 38-yard field goal, they quickly forced the Pirates to a three-and-out. The next drive took 15 plays to find the end zone and finished a minute into the second quarter as Caleb Harley hit Dalton Doyle for a nine-yard strike over the middle for the score. Harley completed 6-of-7 on the drive including a 38-yard strike to Doyle.
The Bears forced the Pirates to another short drive before controlling the clock began to pay dividends. Brandon Tolliver bulldozed three Pirates as he rumbled for 62 yards before finally being drug down at the Pirate 11. Tolliver finished the job giving his team a 14-point lead by contributing a three-yard run across the goal line.
The Pirate offense finally found traction with a 40-yard run from Jeremy Stephenson to set up a 10-yard run by Haylon Leckelt to get the Pirates on the board.
It looked as if the Bears finally put the game out of reach when kicker Trent Manuel connected on a 41-yard field goal to extend the lead to 10 with only 4:23 left in the game.
The crowd did not have time to head for the exits before Pirate quarterback Geth Simmons found Zach Massey for a 72-yard touchdown toss. However, the PAT bounced off the upright to leave the Pirates trailing by four.
The Bears failed to produce anything on offense providing an easy three-and-out.
The Pirates (4-6, 2-5) started on their own 28, needing a touchdown to end a tough season with a win. Simmons took control of the typically run-happy Pirates completing four of six passes for 34 yards. The Pirates picked up three first downs on nine plays before being confronted with fourth-and-12 from the Bear 13.
With the game on the line, it looked as if the game ended with a pass sailing out of bounds, but a roughing the passer penalty gave the Pirates new life. With only 22 seconds on the clock only six yards stood between them and the victory.
Simmons looked to fire a pass over the middle, but the ball-hawk Doyle made an amazing play to snag the pick and send his Bears home with a win.
Brandon Tolliver lead the Bears offensively rushing for 234 yards. Coach Crouch credited the offensive line in making that number possible.
Harley also had a solid night under center throwing for 154 yards on 13 completions. Doyle was his favorite target claiming 93 of those yards.
The Pirates depended heavily on Jeremy Stephenson’s speed as he racked up 103 yards. Sage Smith collected 43 yards as he closed out a stellar career for the Pirates.
“Sage is as good a kid as I have ever coached in my life” said Vidor coach Jeff Matthews. “It brings a tear to my eye to think that he wont be on the sideline with me next year”.