Special moments abound in Bearcats’ win

Kyle Williams and the Ruston defense celebrate after a big stop in the Bearcats 37-16 win over Ouachita. (Photo by T. Scott Boatright)

By T. Scott Boatright

 

Football can often be a game of moments – both good and bad.

Special wins take special moments. Finding a way to win a tight game can happen thanks to a few of those special moments.

Suffice it to say that Ruston’s 37-16 Division I Non-Select School playoff win over Ouachita Friday at L.J. “Hoss” Garrett Stadium was special thanks to some really good moments..

Special enough even for RHS defensive coordinator Kyle Williams to run out on the field to greet his squad and leap for joy and body bump Jamious Blackmon after a special moment in which the Bearcats forced a turnover on downs with Ruston on top 30-16 with a little more than two minutes remaining.

Ruston’s win was based on moments both good and bad, with fortunately more of the good variety coming for the Bearcats down the stretch.

Bearcats coach Jerrod Baugh admitted the win was special for him as someone who spent years early in his career coaching on the Ouachita sideline. 

“That’s really where I started my coaching career out of college with Coach (Pat) Collins,” Baugh said. “So it is special for me. I hate it for (Ouachita head coach Todd Garvin), who’s doing a really good job over there.

“But somebody had to win, and I’d rather it was us.”

He also admitted that beating a team like Ouachita, who the Bearcats scrimmaged against last spring before playing the Lions again in the regular season, made for a special win.

“We know each other,” Baugh said of his team and the Lions. “For a lot of guys on both sides, this was the fifth time they’ve played each other. We know what the base stuff each other does. They added a few things that caught us off guard, and we just didn’t play particularly well in the first half.”

Ouachita scored with 30 seconds remaining in the first half to break a 7-7 tie.

But that’s when the Bearcats’ came through with one of those big moments as Ray Owens blocked the Lions’ point after touchdown kick to hold Ouachita to a 13-7 halftime advantage.

“That was very big,” Baugh said of Owens’ PAT block. “The point differential that we ended up with there, we were able to execute the two-point plays and it was a big deal to go up by two touchdowns. That was big. We didn’t need a trick play on offense or anything like that. We just needed to execute better.”

Another big moment came in the first half when RHS sophomore standout linebacker Zheric Hill went down with an ankle injury, forcing Jon Robert Scheer to come off the bench and try to help fill that void.

“When Zheric went out at linebacker, that kind of changed up what it was we were trying to do,” Baugh said. “Coach Garvin found some holes in what it was we were doing (defensively) and I think as it went along Scheer started playing better. When you’ve got somebody important like (Hill) who goes down, they get most of the reps in practice on what the game stuff is and then when you have an injury, that changes the whole thing around.  I think we got settled in as we went along.”

There was another big moment for Ruston’s linebacker corps when junior Jadon Mayfield briefly had to leave the game early on with a shoulder stinger before returning.

“That would have been a real big deal trying to cover that with both of them (Hill and Mayfield) out,” Baugh admitted. “That’s the case anytime you have a really good player get hurt. Some other guys have to step up, so I was really proud to see Jadon get back in there.”

Three more special moments for the Bearcats came in the form of three timely breakups where junior defensive end Giorden Guidry grabbed air to bat down three attempted Ouachita passes at the line of scrimmage.

“During halftime we made some adjustments and they paid off,” Guidry said. “The coaches and especially Coach Williams fired us at halftime. They let us know we weren’t getting it done and had to focus on executing, so that’s what we went out and tried to do.”

Another big moment came via a big hit by Peyton Bell right after the Bearcats scored on a six-yard Dyson Fields scoring scamper before he hauled in a two-point conversion pass from quarterback Jaden Osborne to put the Bearcats back on top 22-14.

Ouachita had moved up top 16-14 with 11:48 remaining on a 28-yard field goal before the Bearcats countered with 10-play, 68-yard drive culminating with Fields’ touchdown and two-point conversion reception with 7:56 remaining.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Ouachita kick returner looked for a brief second to have an opening before Bell flashed in and made a crushing tackle at the Lions’ 18-yard line that left the returner lying on the ground for several minutes before getting up and slowly walking to the sideline.

Ouachita managed one first down on that series before turning the ball over on downs at its own 42.

On the next play, Fields burst free on a 42-yard touchdown run followed by a two-point conversion pass from Jaden Osborne to Zhy Scott to push Ruston’s lead to 30-16 with 3:32 remaining.

“That was a morale booster,” Guidry said about Bell’s hit on the OPHS kick return. “We fed off that. It got us pumped up and ready to go out there and play some more. It got us fired up enough to force another turnover on downs and help secure the win.”

Guidry said that was just one of many good moments for the Bearcats against Ouachita that he feels gave the team momentum heading into next week’s third-round playoff game at Denham Springs.

“We need that momentum,” Guidry said. “We need to keep it going. We need to go out next week and play the whole game.”


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