WARNER ROBINS -- Bainbridge had three lost fumbles, two muffed punts and two missed field goals -- and the midline dive.
That proved to be the difference.
Junior Damian Bouie ripped off a 97-yard touchdown run with 3:46 left in the game, spoiling Houston County's upset bid, 28-24, on Saturday in a Region 1-AAAA contest at McConnell-Talbert Stadium.
Bouie's long run came after a muffed punt backed the Bearcats deep in their own territory. At the time, Houston County (0-7, 0-4) led 24-21 and seemed ready to grab a win it probably deserved. Instead, Bouie scooted through the left side of the line and didn't stop until he was in the end zone 97 yards later.
"You've got to do your assignments against option football," Houston County defensive coordinator Heath Burch said. "If you don't, they can score from anywhere on the field. We didn't tackle the dive back and that's what happens."
Bainbridge (6-1, 3-1) made the most of that play all night. Bouie, who finished with a game-high 178 yards on 13 carries, also had a 45-yard touchdown run. His running mate Terry Lewis had scoring runs of 25 and 49 yards. The Bearcats rushed for 351 yards for the game.
"Our offensive line and receivers did a good job of blocking all night," Bainbridge quarterback Quincy Fortson said. "I've got to give it up to them."
Houston County moved into Bainbridge territory on its final possession.
Receiver Daryn Carter made a juggling catch of a deep post ball thrown by Bears' quarterback Taylor Ring. But Ring was sacked on the next play, and the Bears eventually turned the ball over on downs.
With the game tied at 21-21, Houston County linebacker Clarke Krimmer blocked a Daniel Provence field goal attempt with 2:31 left in the third quarter. The Bears then drove 60 yards to the Bainbridge 20 to set up Hunter Heck for a field goal try of his own. He made his from 37 yards to give Houston County a 24-21 lead.
A sparse crowd saw Houston County junior Bradley Newkirk return the opening kickoff 77 yards deep into Bainbridge territory. A few plays later, Ring passed five yards to Travis Hutner as Houston County took a quick 7-0 lead.
Bainbridge fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Terrell Strafford's recovery put the Bears back in business at their opponents' 33. Ring eventually ran 13 yards for a touchdown to give the Bears a 14-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.
Ring completed 15-of-28 passes for 138 yards. Hutner had 52 tough yards, including a touchdown, on 15 carries to lead Houston County.