Gators handle Bears

Updated: November 24, 2017

By Quinton Bagley

Little River News

It was a close first half but the Foreman Gators pulled away in the second half to defeat the Bearden Bears, 35-18, in the second round of the Class AA playoffs last week at The Swamp.

“I thought that we were very tight the first half and it showed the way we played, especially on offense,” Foreman head coach Mark King said. “We calmed down and made some adjustments and played a real good second half on both sides.”

One thing that hurt the Gators in the first half was turnovers.

“We had two turnovers in the first half,” King said. “One at the 1-yard line right before half which kept us down 12 -7. We also missed a 34 yard field goal that went off the left upright.”

Despite the turnovers and the slow start, King said he was really proud of his team.

“I think overall we played a decent game,” King said. “Our defense played a great game. Bearden only had two big plays on us all night. I was pleased with the way our kids competed all night and really pleased with their composure and the changes they made to get going and win the game. They showed a lot of maturity last Friday.”

The Bears got on the board first late in the first quarter on a 3-yard run. The 2-point conversion was no good and Bearden led 6-0 with 3:05 to play in the opening period.

Foreman took the lead with 10:42 to play in the second quarter on a 19-yard touchdown run by Kyren Batey. Sam Gamble added the extra point to make the score 7-6 in favor of the Gators.

Bearden scored with 5:32 to play in the first half on 44-yard pass. The 2-point conversion was no good but the Bears led 12-7 at halftime.

It was the Kyren Batey show in the second half as the junior scored four touchdowns to give Foreman the lead and eventual victory.

The first touchdown came on a 12-yard run with 7:42 to play in the third. The PAT was good and the Gators led 14-12.

Early in the fourth quarter, Batey scored on a 5-yard run. Gamble kicked the extra point to give Foreman a 21-12 lead with 11:42 to go in the game.

Just over two minutes later, Batey was back in the end zone after an 81-yard run. The PAT was good and with 9:12 to play, the Gators led 28-12.

Bearden ended the Foreman scoring streak with a 44-yard touchdown pass of its own with 7:14 to play in the fourth. The 2-point conversion was no good and the Bears trailed 28-18.

Batey put an exclamation point on the night with 5:21 to play when he scored his fifth touchdown of the evening from 19-yards out. Gamble added the extra point to make the final score 35-18.

Foreman ended the night with 444 yards rushing and held the Bears to 12 yards rushing. The Gators did give up 234 yards passing to Bearden.

With the victory over the Bears, Foreman advances to the Class AA quarterfinals. Unlike the past two weeks, the Gators will have to leave the friendly confines of The Swamp and travel to Yell County to take on the Danville Little Johns. Danville comes into this week’s game with a 10-1 record overall just like Foreman.

“Danville is a very good football team,” King said. “They are fundamentally sound on both sides of the ball. They are big up front on both sides of the ball and have decent speed to go along with their size. They are well coached and it shows in the way they play the game. They are a team that does not beat themselves.”

King said the Little Johns like to mix up their offense to take advantage of both their speed and size.

“On offense they base out of the spread and have a good quarterback and talented receivers,” King said. “They will do a lot of run-pass option and run counters. They will also get in the I and run right at you using their size.”

King said Danville is very physical and aggressive on defense.

“On defense they base out of a 4-3 but will give you a 4-2/6-2 look and will also give you a 5-2 eagle look,” King said. “They fly to the ball and create a lot of turnovers. It will be a very tough game on Friday because Danville is very tough to beat at home.”

The Little Johns only loss this season was a Week 1 setback to Conway Christian, 35-12. Conway Christian will face the Mount Ida Lions in one of the other quarterfinal games this week.

Former Nashville head coach, the late Billy Laird, always said it was something special to practice on ‘Turkey Day’ and play the day after Thanksgiving. King said he feels the same way.

“I have always said the same thing about playing during Thanksgiving break,” King said. “Only good teams make it this far and I have talked to our kids about it since the day I arrived in Foreman.

“I think this is a great thing for our kids to experience. I love practicing and playing in late November. This will be the first time for all of our kids and they are excited about it.  We are going to have some fun this week and get a lot of good work done in preparation for Danville. The Thanksgiving Day practice will be special for this group.”

Kickoff for Friday’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Little John Field in Danville.