GLADEWATER â The Bears welcomed back some players that theyâve been missing over the past few weeks in Friday nightâs district opener against Spring Hill.
That was evident in Gladewaterâs first half as they built a 38-6 halftime lead.
Spring Hill, meanwhile, came in with a prolific offense and a stingy defense.
That showed up in the second half as the Panthers mounted a massive comeback, pulling the score to within three points and driving late in the fourth quarter.
Thatâs when Gladewaterâs Isaiah Davis went back on to the field.
Davis made a crucial fourth-down stop with the Panthers on the Gladewater 28-yard line, adding to a big night offensively for the Bears as Gladewater held on for a 38-35 win over Spring Hill to open District 7-4A, Division II action at Jack V. Murphy Stadium in Gladewater.
Gladewater moves to 2-4 overall on the season while Spring Hill drops to 5-1.
Davis had two first-half scores on the ground in a 33-carry, 167-yard night offensively but when the Bears were bit by the injury bug in the second half, Davis had his number called again.
âWe lose two defensive guys and have a backup out there trying to stop the rally and obviously we couldnât get it done,â Gladewater head coach John Berry said. âWe get it sorted out on that last drive, get it to a fourth-down play.
âWeâre down a defensive lineman and the headset is going wild with who are we going to send out there. Thatâs when we said, how about Isaiah?â
Davis brought the pressure and forced an errant throw for the turnover on downs from the Panthers, sending the Bears into victory formation.
âHe left it out there,â Berry said of Davis. âHeâs had a tough year with some injuries but he has the energy that this football team operates on. That was apparent tonight.â
Gladewater built a 38-6 lead at halftime, using a 184-yard ground attack that commanded 15:51 off the game clock against the Panthers.
But, in the first half, the Bears hit the air as well. Danny Badger had two first-half touchdown passes for Gladewater, hitting Braden Vickers for a 32-yard score and Tyler Glenn for a 26-yard scoring strike.
Glenn pulled down a Spring Hill interception with 40 seconds left, setting up Davisâ second score of the first half on a 19-yard run, sending Gladewater into the break up, 38-6.
Spring Hill did not go quietly by any stretch.
Richard Matkin scooped up a fumble on Gladewaterâs second snap of the third quarter, setting up a 25-yard run from Kiante Stoker, who finished with 70 total yards rushing in another two-way standout performance Friday night.
After a Gladewater three-and-out, Zach Tulpa, who had 119 of his 145 rushing yards in the second half, broke a 31-yard run to set up a second Stoker score.
Gladewater then punted and Gage White and Dayson Adaway connected for the second time of the night on a 64-yard hookup.
A bad snap on a Bear punt resulted in a safety and on the next, snap, Tulpa broke loose for a 57-yard score with 2:08 left in the fourth quarter for 29 unanswered points from the Panthers and a 38-35 ballgame heading into the fourth.
Gladewater returned to form on the ground, churning out a long, eight-minute drive before Vaughn Bufkin gave the Panthers the ball back with a tackle for loss on the Panther 14.
Spring Hill went on the march, converting a third down and a fourth down before a swarm of Bears set up a 4th and 7 at the Gladewater 28.
Thatâs when Davis sealed it for Gladewater.
âWell, weâre 1-0 and thatâs the main thing, whether it was a 3-0 win or a 38-25 win, weâre 1-0,â Berry said of his postgame message. âTheyâre going to gain a little confidence from getting through this and the positive things we were able to do.
âBut on the flip side, weâre going to take some time with the third and fourth quarter in the video room and move forward.â
Gladewater is back home on Friday, playing host to Gilmer. Spring Hill, meanwhile, hosts Pittsburg.
Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h
Article available at https://www.etvarsity.com/news/2017/oct/14/et-football-spring-hill-falls-short-comeback-effor/