The Carvers Bay Bears were determined to learn from history rather than repeat it.
The Bears entered Friday night’s Class A, Division I playoff opener as the top seed in the Lower State bracket with a first-round matchup against eighth-seeded Baptist Hill. In the same position last season, Carvers Bay was stunned in a loss to rival Hemingway. This year, the Bears took care of business in a 48-20 win over of the Bobcats.
“[We talked about it] a lot,” Carvers Bay coach Nate Thompson said of last year’s disappointing finish. “I think a lot was on these kids. To them some of it is a weight lifted off of their shoulders. They came in No. 1 last year, and they got beat by No. 8. It was embarrassing to them, and they wanted to atone for that. They came out here tonight, and they played a good game. I think sometimes they tried to play too hard.”
It was a rough start for Baptist Hill (6-5), which had a game-opening drive that began with an incompletion followed by back-to-back penalties before throwing an interception. Carvers Bay defensive back Hikeem Hampton came away with the pick, which was a result of a heavy Bears pass rush, and returned it 35 yards to the Bobcats’ 10. On the next play, Bears senior Devin Cuttino punched it in.
The Bears defense led the charge as it held Baptist Hill to minus-10 yards rushing and 52 yards of total offense in the first half.
Despite the Bears’ strong defensive effort, miscues and penalties kept the game closer on the scoreboard than it was on the field. Carvers Bay (10-1) handed Baptist Hill its first touchdown when a Bears fumbled bounced into the hands of the Bobcats’ Daykota Holmes, who returned it 20 yards for a touchdown to make it 7-6 Bears midway through the first quarter. Then, Darius Carr’s 70-yard interception return for a touchdown for Carvers Bay was wiped out on a holding penalty, which occurred after Carr had broken into the open field.
“We came out and kind of hurt ourselves with a lot of bugaboos,” Thompson said. “We had to overcome ourselves basically. Once we got that we got rolling.”
Still, the Bears did enough to take a comfortable 28-6 halftime lead as Hampton scored on runs of 5 and 18 yards, and junior Brandon Young made a nice catch on a 33-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Israel Davis.
It was well-balanced offensive attack for Carvers Bay, which had three different runners go over 70 yards rushing and a fourth had 43. Cuttino led the way with 86 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries while junior Terry Bromell had 85 yards on the ground and Hampton added 71 yards.
“We got some backs, and we are trying to work all the backs in,” Thompson said. “Eventually, we said, ‘OK Devin,’ and he did what he needed to do with three touchdowns. … He plays on offense, he plays on defense and special teams, so we don’t want to burn him out before the second half happens. [The other backs] gave us good production as well.”
For the game, Baptist Hill had just 24 yards rushing and 163 passing while Carvers Bay racked up 290 on the ground to go with 52 passing yards. But the Bears know they have to cut down on the miscues and the 80 yards in penalties they had Friday night.
“If we don’t we will be home for good for the holidays,” Thompson said. “It was the little things that hurt us this time.”
Next Friday night, Carvers Bay will host Estill, which will bring a 9-2 record into the matchup after a 26-7 win over Johnsonville in another first-round playoff matchup.
“They are pretty good. That is about all I need to know,” Thompson said of Estill’s win over Johnsonville. “We have to come with our ‘A’ game. … They are going to bring it, and we are going to have to bring it also.”
CB—Devin Cuttino 10 run (Hikeem Hampton kick), 10:32
BH—Daykota Holmes 20 fumble return (kick failed), 6:53
CB—Hampton 5 run (Hampton kick), 2:38
CB—Hampton 18 run (Hampton run), 8:45
CB—Brandon Young 33 pass from Israel Davis (kick failed), 0:30.6
CB—Cuttino 42 run (Cuttino run), 9:50
BH—Rashard Holmes 1 run (pass failed), 7:05
CB—Cuttino 6 run (pass failed), 2:42
CB—Lewis Morant 14 run (kick blocked), 11:31
BH—Daykota Holmes 54 pass from Troy Harrison (Rashard Holmes run), 7:43