It doesn’t take an offensive mind to see what quarterback Collin Ironside is doing for the Bearden offense.
The freshman turned in another stellar performance, and Bearden (4-6, 2-5 Region 1-6A) was never seriously threatened by Jefferson County (3-7, 1-6), getting the win on Senior Night, 21-10.
“I may be the defensive coordinator, but I’ll tell you, Collin Ironside is playing unbelievable,” Bearden defensive coordinator Brian Milan said.
Ironside finished 30-for-47 passing with 295 yards and two touchdowns.
The win gave Bearden a sixth place finish in the final Region 1-6A regular season standings. The Bulldogs will face the No. 3 seed out of Region 2-6A, Riverdale, on the road next Friday in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs.
After four consecutive games of allowing over 30 points in every game, the Bearden defense stepped up on a night where penalties derailed several drives by the Bulldog offense, forcing six Jefferson County turnovers.
“We’ve been fighting hard in every game but it’s only been a one half performance,” Coach Milan said. “One thing we’ve been stressing in practice is being able to finish in the second half and coming out with a better attitude and a better effort in the second half.
“Tonight, we gave up a touchdown in the second half, but our effort was the same in the first quarter as it was in the fourth quarter.”
Though the defense turned in the complete performance, it took Bearden’s offense a little bit to get going.
Both teams were scoreless until running back Ty Warren got Bearden on the board with a 73-yard touchdown run with 8:10 remaining in the second quarter.
Warren carried the ball just two times in the first half, as Bearden focused on the passing game throughout the first half and much of the game.
“We planned on throwing the ball a lot since our run game has been struggling a bit lately, but we planned on stepping up the run with all the passing, which led to Ty’s long touchdown run,” Ironside said.
Aided by a Jefferson County muffed punt, the Bulldogs were able to extend their lead to 14-0 on a two play, 26-yard drive capped by a 19-yard pass from Ironside to senior wide receiver Jordan Ferguson, 1:51 before halftime.
The Bearden defense continued to hold Jefferson County’s offense for much of the second half, as the Patriots didn’t score a touchdown until 7:04 remaining in the game on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Bryson Sexton.
A missed 27-yard field goal by Bearden gave the ball back to the Patriots following a long Bulldog drive, but safety Sam Coffin shut down any thought of a Jefferson County comeback, intercepting Sexton at Bearden’s 35-yard line, his second pick of the night.
Snapping a four-game losing streak, Bearden will be coming off a win for the first time since mid-September going into next week’s playoff game.
“This win provides us with some momentum, Coach Milan said. “I feel like we really needed this as a team.”