Bearden’s hopes of hosting a first round playoff game took a hit on Friday night, as Dobyns-Bennett avenged last season’s loss with a 34-21 win at Bill Young Field.
Coming into the night, Bearden (3-5, 1-4 Region 1-6A) was part of a five way tie for fourth place in Region 1-6A. The Bulldogs now sit in a three way tie for sixth place.
The top four finishers in the region earn a home playoff game.
“We have to focus on the process and not the result,” Coach Morgan Shinlever said. “If we take care of the process, then we’ll line ourselves up to succeed.
“We’re still in a good position to have a first round playoff game at home, and that’s been one of our big goals this season, so we have to do everything we can to obtain that.”
Early on, it looked like Bearden might have been able to pretty much lock up a top four seed with a win over Dobyns-Bennett (4-4, 2-3).
The Indians took an early 3-0 lead on a 32-yard field goal on the opening drive of the game, but Bearden struck next on a 48-yard scoring connection between freshman quarterback Collin Ironside and quarterback-turned-receiver Dawson Houser, who finished with six catches for 138 yards.
Dobyns-Bennett, however, took control in the second quarter, getting a big boost from a 54-yard interception return that led to a score, taking a 20-7 lead into halftime.
“[The interception] swung the momentum and put us in a hole that we had to dig ourselves out of,” Coach Shinlever said. “We’ve kind of gotten in a routine over the past couple games of digging ourselves a hole.
“But the thing about our kids is that they consistently dig themselves out of it.”
Bearden rallied in the second half, cutting the lead to six on two separate occasions, the second coming on a three-yard touchdown run by Ty Warren with 3:59 remaining that cut the Dobyns-Bennett lead to 27-21.
But the Bearden defense was unable to come up with stops on two third downs, and surrendered a late touchdown run by quarterback Cole Maupin, his third of the night.
Next week, Bearden travels to Science Hill for the first time since 2008 to try to keep their hopes of hosting a playoff game alive.
“As far as preparation goes, if we have a week of preparation like we did this week, we’ll be ready to play ball,” Coach Shinlever said. “The biggest thing is that on Friday night when the opportunities come, we have to make the most of them.”