Bears sneak past Lee Williams in GC opener
PRESCOTT VALLEY — Bradshaw Mountain quarterback Josh Grant would have the last laugh and, boy, did it feel good.
Despite a furious Lee Williams rally in the third quarter, the Bears held off the Volunteers when Grant ran for a 35-yard touchdown on fourth-and-long with 3 minutes left to preserve a 35-20 victory.
“We called the [option] pitch, and they were doing good taking away the pitch all night,” Grant said of the game-clinching TD. “So, I took it away and ran inside, got some blocks inside and then it was just green [field] from there.”
In the teams’ Grand Canyon region opener Friday, Sept. 20, at Bob Pavlich Field in Prescott Valley, Bradshaw Mountain improved its record to 3-2 and 1-0 in region, while the Volunteers dipped to 2-2, 0-1.
The Bears led 21-0 at halftime and 28-0 with 10:36 left in the third quarter when defensive lineman Mason Stultz returned an interception 15 yards for a touchdown on an all-out blitz of Lee Williams QB Devean Santos.
In fact, Stultz’s pick was one of five interceptions on the evening for Bradshaw Mountain. Stultz also registered a blocked punt in the first quarter.
“I saw that the quarterback was dropping back for a screen, and so I knew that he was going to throw it right over my head,” Stultz said of his pick-six. “So I just jumped up and it went into my hands and I ran it back.”
However, the game would get interesting in the third quarter, as the Volunteers rattled off 20 unanswered points to pull within 28-20.
“They scored and we got down on ourselves,” Grant said. “We need to keep our heads up, keep fighting. We stopped fighting for a little bit there.”
Santos’ 49-yard TD pass down the left sideline to wideout Kameron Toms, Luigi Garibaldi’s fumble recovery for TD on a botched punt over Grant’s head that had gone into the end zone, and Donnie Simms’ 62-yard TD run all transpired in the final 3:44 of the period.
It was a head-scratcher indeed for Bradshaw Mountain, and quite a wake-up call.
“They kind of got hyped up and we were just kind of getting like heads down, all quiet on the sideline,” Stultz said. “We just had to get hyped up and then we started going again.”
The Bears began the game without three defensive starters who were injured and they lost star linebacker/long snapper Noah Shaver when he tweaked a hamstring in the first quarter.
Nevertheless, Bradshaw Mountain’s defense blanked Lee Williams in the fourth quarter, as Moises Hernandez and Brock Fringer each picked off a pass in the final 6 minutes of regulation.
After Hernandez’s pick with 5:50 remaining, the Bears got the ball at the Lee Williams 42-yard line. Running back Titus King converted on 4th and 3 from the 35 and Grant clinched the win on his 35-yard TD run on 4th and 11.
In the first half, Grant scored a rushing TD on the Bears’ opening drive and King reached pay dirt on a pair of rushing TDs, including a 1-yard run in the first quarter and an 11-yard scamper in the second quarter.
“We were going to run; we weren’t going to punt again and take a chance with where we’re at with the snapping,” Bears coach Chuck Moller said of Grant’s final TD. “It came down to: we needed a play, he made one. And that’s what good players do.”
Lee Williams welcomes Mingus (0-5, 0-1) to Kingman for its region home opener at 7 p.m. Sept. 27.
Bradshaw Mountain plays host to Coconino (4-0, 1-0) for a key region showdown at 7 p.m. Sept. 27 at Pavlich Field.
“We know their offense is going to be pretty good; they’ve always been pretty good,” Grant said of the Panthers. “Our offense is looking better and better every game.”
Doug Cook is a reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at email@example.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.