Bears rally back from 14-point deficit against Billingsley

Published 1:35 am Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Keith High School Bears (1-0) rallied back from an early 14-point deficit to come back and defeat the Billingsley Bears (0-1) 38-28, and getting head coach Anthony Lumpkin his first career win as a head coach on Friday night in Orrville.

“It feels great! We waited a long time for this,” Lumpkin said. “We put in a lot of work over the summer, and it just feels great for the guys to come out, trust what we asked them to do and we got the win.”

Lumpkin graduated from Keith High School, and it was a special moment for him to earn his first win at home.

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Keith and Billingsley were in a slugfest all night as they countered each other with big plays that rocked the momentum pendulum back and forth.

However, it was the ground game and the defense that won the game for Keith.

Keith running backs Kendarius Perry (103-yards, two touchdowns and a fumble) and Levi Thomas (130-yards and a touchdown) carved up the Billingsley defense with big runs.

Thomas had two runs of more than 40-yards (45,57).

“We have what we need to be successful,” Lumpkin said.

Edwards didn’t hit the century mark, but he rushed into the end zone three times himself.

“There are several things that [Edwards] did for us tonight that kept drives alive,” Lumpkin said.

The consistency and the big gains, helped cover up early mistakes. Edwards fumbled three times in the game and threw an interception. Perry also had a fumble after catching a big 46-yard pass that put the team in the red zone.

The defense coming up with big stops late in the game, and a game sealing interception by Perry kept Billingsley from regaining control of the game.

“We played hard and got the win,” Edwards said. “Coach [Lumpkin] pushed at practice for situations like being down in the first quarter. We had to gain momentum, and I trusted [my team] because I know they were going to do their job.”

Keith’s opening drive was going well as they drove the ball 35-yards down field, until two fumbles and Edwards’ pass was intercepted by Billingsley defensive back Carlton McCary.

Billingsley turned Keith’s mistake into the first touchdown and two-point conversion of the game to take an 8-0 lead in the first quarter.

It was a tough night for Edwards passing who went 9-for-19 for 102-yards and an interception.

Keith and Billingsley not only share mascots, but they shared a similar game plan as well.

Both teams fed their big play running backs as much as they could, and it paid off.

Billingsley running back Taylor Arington did the heavy lifting early and picked up 90 of his total 140 rushing yards in the first half. He had the first and last touchdowns of the game for Billingsley.

Keith’s offense was hibernating in the first quarter, and the defense got burned early as well. At the start of the second quarter, Keith forced Billingsley into a fourth-and 13. But Billingsley quarterback Walker Motley hit a wide-open McCrary for a 37-yard touchdown pass to make the lead 14-0.

However, Billingsley’s lack of a kicking game came back to bite them on the next play. Billingsley attempted a squib kick, but Christopher Coleman scooped up the ball and returned the kick to the opponents 15-yard line. The Keith fans erupted as the unexpected play gave the team the boost to begin the comeback.

Keith capitalized on the good field position and Kendarius Perry scored his first touchdown of the game on a 11-yard run. Edwards kept the ball on the ground during the next series and scored on a 4-yard quarterback sneak. The double-reverse pass two-point conversion tied the game at 14.

Billingsley hadn’t been put down yet as Motley converted another fourth-and-long touchdown pass to McCary on the next drive to retake the lead 22-14. It appeared that Keith was done for the half, but on their last possession of the half, Edwards managed to escape a would-be sack and scrambled 17 yards for a touchdown with 16 seconds remaining.

At halftime, Keith trailed 22-20.

Keith didn’t trail in the second half for long. A bad snap on a fourth-and-long punt attempt turned into a 28-yard run for a first down by Edwards. On the next play, Keith running back Levi Thomas broke multiple tackles and delivered several mean stiff-arms on his way to a 57-yard touchdown to give Keith a 26-22 lead.

The Keith defense found its stride and stopped Billingsley on their next four drives. Keith’s Jamal James recovered a fumble on a bad snap on the opponent 40-yard line to setup another Keith touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.

The 47-yard insurance touchdown by Perry late in the fourth quarter gave Keith plenty of breathing room as they finished the game comfortably.

Keith has a bye week next week, and their next game is a region matchup at home against No. 5 ranked Linden (0-0).