Pictures and story by Chad McDuffee
The Ballinger Bearcats first Friday night contest of the season might prove to be the most emotional one of the year. Ballinger was ultimately victorious 20-19 in overtime. From the large home crowd for Brady, to the opposing players being more fired up than for a usual contest. Seemingly, even the refs, who made more than a few questionable calls. In the recent past the Bearcats might not have had the moxie to deal with the adversity mounted against them. The Bearcats fought against the odds and prevailed.
Ballinger did not start off on the right foot. A series of mistakes and difficult situations made for a scoreless first quarter. In fact the first score of the game was a fumble return for a touchdown by Brady. Cooper Bean was the man responsible for the fumble as he tried to fight for extra yards. This should be viewed as an aberration as Bean was only credited with one fumble last season on 147 offensive touches. As the game devolved into a defensive slugfest, the Bearcats were able to finally get the ball moving before half. Cooper would redeem himself by putting the ball in the endzone with :56 left before halftime after Sophomore receiver Weston Rollwitz caught a 34 yard yard pass that had the Bearcats set up near the goal line. Bean would end the game with a game leading 74 yards on 14 carries, averaging a nice 5 yards per carry.
After the half Ballinger would receive the kickoff. They drove down the field for a score, but this time doing the damage for Ballinger was receiver turned running back, senior Damian Willborn. A little more quick twitch than Bean, Willborn was able to give the Brady defense a different look, while also allowing him to rest.
Ballinger was not able to hold the lead for long before a long 46 yard touchdown run by Brady’s Kelton Bernard. Both defenses were able to step up and stop the opposing offense multiple times throughout the rest of the game. One promising Brady drive was stopped when Jayden Rivera-McDuffee punched the ball out of the ballcarriers hands and was able to scoop it up for Ballinger. Ballinger would finish within the 5 yard line when Tyler Vaughn seemingly scored twice, but the officials called him short. When it came to overtime the Bearcats had Brady crashing down on the run when quarterback Edgar Nunez tiptoed the sideline before zipping a pass to the wide open Weston Rollwitz for a score. After the field flipped Brady had to convert a 4th down before scoring their touchdown. In a gutsy move from Brady’s coaching staff they elected to go for the 2 point conversion in order to win the game. The Bearcat defense was able to hold, however, as Cooper Bean stopped the running back short of the goal line to preserve the Bearcat win 20-19.
Some key stats of note. Edgar Nunez was 7-9 passing for 106 yards. He did not light up the Brady secondary, but was extremely efficient. Weston Rollwitz, in his varsity debut, hauled in 7 passes for 112 yards. One of the challenges for Coach Lipsey this week will be to get more receivers involved in the passing game. Ballinger had three runners, Cooper Bean, Edgar Nunez and Damian Willborn, that averaged at least 5 yards per carry. Defensively the Bearcats stats are even more impressive. Brady dropped back to throw five times in the game. One of those passes was intercepted by Cody Harral and twice the Brady quarterback was sacked by Adam Winn. Ballinger had three defenders reach double digit tackles, Cooper Bean and Adolph Medina with 10 apiece while Jayden Rivera-McDuffee led the way with 14. Bean also contributed to the win by blocking an extra point attempt that kept the game tied at 13.
Ballinger will be home the next two weeks as they host Reagan County September 7th and Colorado City September 14th. Following their bye week they will then travel to Cisco on September 28th to take on the Loboes in their district opener.