Winning in the playoffs on any level rewards teams that run the ball and play great defense. Bamberg-Ehrhardt did both things remarkably well in its 15-0 victory over Carvers Bay on Friday night, eliminating the Bears from the Class 2A playoffs.
“We knew they were a good team when they came in, and that we both had good defenses,” said Carvers Bay coach Nate Thompson. “We made some miscues and they capitalized on them to score some points early. We had some penalties in this game that were a bit out of character for us, and then we just couldn’t get the running game established the way we like to. It was a matter of who made the bigger mistake, we made it, and they took advantage of it.”
In the first quarter, Carvers Bay made a quick stop on defense, and then took over for its first offensive possession of the game. The Bears (11-2) would have a bad center-to-quarterback exchange, resulting in a fumble that was recovered by Bamberg-Ehrhardt (12-1) inside the Carvers Bay 10-yard line. The Red Raiders would score three plays later to take a 6-0 lead. The score would remain the same into the halftime break, with Carvers Bay’s final drive of the first half ending in an interception by Jerrald Manigualt.
“That was big, that got us started right there and got us up,” said Kevin Crosby, Bamberg-Ehrhardt’s head coach. “The defense held on and kept it 6-0 at halftime and came out in the second half… and they turned the ball over and we punched the ball in late to go up 15. I felt like once we punched that one in, we were good defensively, even if they went down and punched one in (late in the game).”
In the second half, Carvers Bay would take the same approach as the end of the first half – throwing the ball downfield to try and strike on a big play. The Bears would turn the ball over on downs on the drive, and then force the Red Raiders to punt. A booming punt by Blaze Bunch pinned the Bears inside their own 10-yard line. A sack of Carvers Bay quarterback Janaz Sumpter in his own end zone resulted in a safety and gave the ball back to Bamberg-Ehrhardt. Carvers Bay would muster a few more long drives, including one that ended with a turnover on downs inside the Bamberg-Ehrhardt 5-yard line.
“I thought, defensively, we played well. It was just one of those nights where we were fortunate to come out (on top),” Crosby said. “They turned the ball over a couple of times and we capitalized, so that was a good thing. But, for the most part, I thought we played well.”
For the Bears, the loss ends a strong season in which their only regular-season loss came to a powerful North Myrtle Beach team.
“We won a lot, but the last one always hurts. We pride ourselves on getting to state, I’ve been here 18 years and we’ve been to state five times,” Thompson said. “We didn’t get that feeling at the end of this year; I know what the expectations are from these players, the coaching staff, and the community. We had a pretty good season, though right now our players probably don’t see it that way.”
Thompson and the Bear football program are immediately turning the page – they start working out and conditioning for next season on Monday.
Midway through the first quarter, Bamberg-Ehrhardt found itself the recipient of a gift from Carvers Bay via a fumble deep in Bear territory. The Red Raiders wasted no time converting the turnover into points to take an early 6-0 lead. Their defense would ensure the victory with a dominant, shutout performance.
AJ Williams: The quarterback for Bamberg-Ehrhardt was the catalyst for an offense that picked its spots and found a way to test a strong Carvers Bay defense. He led his team in rushing with 60 yards and a score, while connecting on his lone pass attempt.
Janaz Sumpter: Doing his best to match Williams’ efforts, Sumpter also led his team in passing and rushing, even with a bum ankle that forced him from the game late. His 221 passing yards and 52 rushing yards were all he had to give on Friday night, with a number of touchdown passes falling just out of reach.
Blaze Bunch: He caught the lone pass for Bamberg-Ehrhardt, though his skills as a tight end take a backseat to his punting. Time-and-time again he boomed a 40+ yard punt to flip field position in favor of the Red Raiders, leading to long fields and bad situations for the Carvers Bay offense.
By the numbers
Bamberg-Ehrhardt had only 115 yards of offense on the night, 109 rushing and a 6-yard pass completion, but found a way to build a two-score advantage on Carvers Bay.
The defense of Bamberg-Ehrhardt came away with its sixth shutout of the season against Carvers Bay, this one leading to an Upper State championship game against Barnwell.
Janaz Sumpter amasses 273 yards of offense on the night, throwing for 221 and running for another 52, all on a bum ankle. He wasn’t supposed to run from his quarterback position due to the injury, but did so anyway in an attempt to extend the season for Carvers Bay.
They said it
“We had a few chances down in their territory and we couldn’t come away with points. That’s not something you can do in a game this tight, every chance is so critical.” – Carvers Bay coach Nate Thompson
“It was a good game that was a hell of a football team out there; Coach Nate does a great job with his guys. Defensively, they were pretty damn good.” – Bamberg-Ehrhardt coach Kevin Crosby
BE – AJ Williams 16 yard run (Hunter Bridges kick failed) 7:20
BE – Team sack in the end zone for a safety 4:01
BE – James Gainyard 26 yard run (Bridges kick good) 8:29
Rushing: BE – AJ Williams 16-60 TD. CB – Janaz Sumpter 8-52.
Passing: BE – AJ Williams 1-1-6-0-0. CB – Janaz Sumpter 20-37-221-0-1.
Receiving: BE – Blaze Bunch 1-6. CB – Dijon Goss 4-79.