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Wolves stun Bears, rally in 4th quarter behind tailback Kenny Abraham’s 2 TDs
Prep Football

Bradshaw Mountain’s Titus King stretches for the goalline as the Bears host Estrella Foothills in their 2019 football home opener Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Prescott Valley. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

Bradshaw Mountain’s Titus King stretches for the goalline as the Bears host Estrella Foothills in their 2019 football home opener Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Prescott Valley. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

The 2019 Bradshaw Mountain football team may be green, but you have to give the Bears some credit for the effort they gave in a gut-wrenching loss in their season opener on Friday, Aug. 23.

In a battle pitting two 4A state tournament qualifiers from 2018, Estrella Foothills came from behind late in the fourth quarter to beat Bradshaw Mountain, 33-26, by capitalizing on two Bears turnovers.

“We just got a little tired, a little fatigued, and we just need to keep working and work harder, hit harder – wrap up and make tackles, make our throws,” Bears junior quarterback Josh Grant said. “But we’re heading in a really good way. We honestly came out stronger than I thought we would [Friday] and we’re just going to keep getting better all along.”

At Bob Pavlich Field in Prescott Valley, the Bears of the Grand Canyon region, who have 26 sophomores on their roster, will carry a 0-1 record into Week 2, while the Wolves of the Southwest region will enter it at 1-0.

Last season, these two teams met in the opener in Goodyear, with Bradshaw Mountain pulling out the narrow victory, 20-13. The Bears would go on to win seven consecutive games.

“We’ve been really diligent with our training, with our weightlifting and conditioning,” Wolves coach Derek Wahlstrom said of his 2019 squad. “And we felt especially having the advantage of being in the heat, our conditioning might be beneficial when you come up here. Our kids displayed mental toughness, too.”

On Friday, Bradshaw Mountain clung to a 23-19 lead going into the fourth quarter. Grant, who doubles as the Bears’ kicker, drilled a 23-yard field goal with 8:33 left to push the lead to seven.

However, Estrella Foothills benefited from two big Bradshaw Mountain penalties on its next possession.

Three plays later, Wolves tailback Kenny Abraham ran for 30 yards and followed it up with a 2-yard TD run, his first of two in the final period. The Wolves missed the extra point and trailed, 26-25, with 6:58 to go.

That’s when the unthinkable happened. Bears senior Ismael Solano returned the ensuing kickoff all the way to midfield before the ball popped loose. Estrella Foothills recovered at the Bradshaw Mountain 46 and, eight plays later, Abraham ran 9 yards for another touchdown for a 33-26 Wolves lead with 4:40 remaining.

“You can’t overcome turnovers – we gave them two touchdowns,” Bears coach Chuck Moller said. “It’s hard to rebound from that.”

The Bears had two more chances to try and tie or take the lead, but the Wolves made back-to-back interceptions to seal it.

“I don’t think we had such an edge to us in the second half,” Bradshaw Mountain senior linebacker Daniel Gobiel said. “We’ve just got to go back, watch film, study harder, get more physical.”

Bradshaw Mountain started the game strongly, though, leading 16-6 with 11 minutes left in the second quarter.

Senior running back Titus King, who ended with 74 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns, scored the Bears’ first TD of the season on a 1-yard scamper on an option pitch from Grant with 7:34 left in the first quarter.

Grant opened the second quarter with a 37-yard field goal. On Estrella Foothills’ ensuing drive, Gobiel picked off Wolves QB Ty Perry on a tipped ball and ran the interception back 25 yards for a TD.

But the Wolves kept hanging around, despite trailing 16-6. They would cut their deficit to 16-12 with 1:57 remaining before halftime when Perry escaped a Bears blitz, rolled left and ran 17 yards for a touchdown.

UP NEXT

Bradshaw Mountain plays host to Shadow Mountain, which was idle in Week 1, at 7 p.m. Aug. 30, at Pavlich Field in Prescott Valley.

Estrella Foothills faces Greenway, which was also on a bye, for its home opener at 7 p.m. Aug. 30, in Goodyear.

Doug Cook is a reporter for The Daily Courier. You can reach Doug at 928-445-3333, ext. 2039, or via email at dcook@prescottaz.com. Follow him on Twitter @dougout_dc.

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