Provence's 3 FGs lift Bainbridge past Early County, 16-12

Ed Pilcher and the Bearcats snuck away with a 16-12 win against Early County on Friday night in Bainbridge.

Ed Pilcher and the Bearcats snuck away with a 16-12 win against Early County on Friday night in Bainbridge.

BAINBRIDGE -- Sophomore placekicker Daniel Provence hit three field goals, including two for more than 30 yards, and the Bearcats' defense forced five turnovers as Bainbridge defeated visiting Early County, 16-12, in the season opener for both teams Friday night.

Bainbridge (1-0) led, 13-12, at the start of the fourth quarter, and Provence helped increase that lead by kicking a 42-yarder with 4:12 remaining in the game. On the ensuing drive, Early County (0-1) faced a 4th-and-30 situation with 2:21 remaining as Jacori Taylor's pass to Tracy Smith went for 26 yards -- but came up four yards short of the needed yardage.

"Their quarterback is a very special player and he made a lot of plays for them all night long," Bainbridge coach Ed Pilcher said of Taylor. "We tried to make some adjustments in the second half and I think they worked. Obviously our kicker came up huge for us -- those three field goals made the difference."

Bainbridge and its veer-attack, run-based offense opened the game with a bit of a surprise, electing to pass on the very first play. The play worked to perfection as Bainbridge quarterback Quincy Fortson connected with A. J. Miller, who rumbled close to the end zone after a 60-yard reception.

Provence then hit a 23-yard field goal to give Bainbridge an early 3-0 lead and set the tone for the game.

"We planned to pass on the first play of the game," Pilcher said. "(We) thought it would work, and we're glad that it did."

The Bobcats came back with a scoring play of their own as Devontay Spencer broke away for a 17-yard touchdown with 5:45 remaining. The extra point attempt was blocked by B.J. Cheatem, but Early County still led, 6-3.

Bainbridge moved back in front later in the first quarter thanks to a strong run by Terry Lewis. Lewis took a pitch up the left side and broke a tackle before being hit again, but remained on his feet and stayed in bounds. He then outran Early County defenders the rest of the way, scoring on a 42-yard run. Provence's extra point put Bainbridge ahead 10-6, and the Bearcats added a 38-yard field goal by Provence with 12.8 seconds left in the second half to lead 13-6 at halftime.

Early County's Taylor ran for a 5-yard touchdown run in the first series of the second half, but his two-point conversion pass was intercepted by Rodney Glenn in the end zone. The Bobcats still trailed, 13-12, with 7:34 left in the third quarter.

Bainbridge's defense took over from there as Bearcat defenders came up with big plays to snuff out the Bobcats' second-half drives. Cheatem intercepted a pass with 8:58 left in the fourth quarter, and then forced a fumble with 5:20 left.

Provence then hit his final FG to all but seal it.

Lewis finished the game with 16 carries for 81 yards and a touchdown, while Fortson had 10 carries for 29 yards. He was also 3-of-6 passing for 10 yards.

Taylor led the Bobcats' offense on both the ground and the air, rushing for 95 yards on 21 carries, and passing for 94 yards.

Bainbridge travels to face Cairo next Friday at 7:30 p.m., in a non-region rivalry game.

Story courtesy of Bainbridge Post-Searchlight