By Richard Bravo
The Ray Bearcats opened the season with hopes of bringing the copper helmet back home but the Superior Panthers had other plans as they came away with a 34-12..
The game started with the Panthers receiving the opening kickoff on their own 30-yard line.
The Bearcats looked sharp on defense, holding the Panthers to a four and out forcing the Panthers to punt away. The Bearcats started their first offensive possession from the 25-yard line, but with no luck in moving the ball, they went for a go four and out and were forced to punt.
The Panthers found their groove on their second possession, as they struck first, scoring on a 34 yard screen pass putting them up 6-0 with the two-point conversion no good.
On the pursuing kickoff, Joe Rudy Lorona put the Bearcats in good field position as he scrambled 30 yards to the Panther 46-yard-line.
The Panthers defense denied the Bearcats any yards as they forced the Bearcats to punt once again with time winding down in the first quarter. With a bad snap on the Bearcat punt attempt, the Panthers recovered the ball deep in Bearcat territory and took their 6-0 lead into the end of the first quarter.
The Panthers didn’t waste any time scoring starting the second quarter when their offense completed a short drive with a 14-yard pass to put them up 12-0. The two-point conversion failed with 10:40 left in the first half.
With good field position on their own 45, the Bearcats were unable to get their offense going as they turned the ball over on downs after four plays with 8:34 left in the half.
The Panthers capitalized on two 15-yard penalties by the Bearcats, putting them on the 3-yard line. Two plays later, the Panthers crossed the goal line on a 3-yard run to put them up 20-0.
They added the two point conversion to make the score 22-0 with 6:50 remaining in the first half. With another good run back by Lorona on the following kickoff, the Bearcats started their fourth possession of the game on their own 40.
On the second play of the drive, quarterback Destry Yocum connected with receiver Dominic Bravo on a 40-yard pass to put the Bearcats in a good position for their first score of the game.
After a couple of failed run attempts, the Bearcats got back to the air as Yocum found Seth Harmon in the corner of the end zone for a 12-yard pass putting the Bearcats on the board with 3:00 left in the first half.
The extra point was blocked putting the score 22-6. With a little time left on the clock in the first half, the Panthers took advantage of some missed tackles by the Bearcats defense. This once again added another score to end the first half and the Panthers took a 28-6 lead into the locker room.
The third quarter was all Panthers as they came out of the locker room determined to keep the Bearcats from making any type of comeback. The Panthers didn’t allow the Bearcat offense to gain any momentum as the Panther defense forced one fumble and three turnovers on downs to keep the Bearcats scoreless in the third quarter.
The Panthers offense on the other hand, worked their way through the Bearcat defense to find the end zone one more time on a 15-yard pass to put them up 34-6 heading into the fourth quarter.
In the final quarter of play, the Bearcats got some offense going as their running game and passing game came alive. Running back Jacob Wernett found some running room and passes from Yocum to Bravo would get the Bearcats deep into Panther territory. On the tenth play of the drive, Yocum tucked the ball and ran 13 yards on a quarterback keeper to make the score 34-12.
The two-point conversion failed. The Bearcat defense held the Panther offense without another score, but it would be the Panthers prevailing 34-12 as the final second ticked off the clock.
In passing, Yocum threw for 165 yards on 13-23 pass attempts with no interceptions and one touchdown. On the receiving end for the Bearcats, Bravo had eight catches for 86 yards, Harmon had one catch for 12 yards and one touchdown and Wernett had two catches for 51 yards.
Wernett lead the rushing with 42 yards on six carries, Yocum had four rushes for 16 yards and one touchdown, Clarence Baptisto had 10 yards on three carries.
Defensively the Bearcats were lead by Wernett with eight tackles and three assists, Yocum with five tackles and one assist, Lorona with five tackles and one assist, Julio Noriega with six tackles and two assists, and Rexx Sosa with four tackles and three assists.
The Bearcats will be on the road this Fri. traveling to Heber to take on the Mogollon Mustangs at 7:00 p.m. The Ray Bearcat Booster club has shirts, cowbells and other necessities for sale to help the fans show school pride.
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