It had to wait even longer after a line of thunderstorms moved through the area Friday night, forcing school administrators to postpone the game against Huntsville to Saturday evening. But the Bobcats were unable to use the extra time to cultivate enough of a game plan against the Eagles, suffering a 6-0 loss at Bobcat Stadium.
Berryville coach Eric Daniel said the program was on the brink of breaking through and derailing a now 11-game losing streak.
"I am so proud of the kids and the way they played," Daniel said. "I am seeing things that I have wanted to see. They have a little intensity about them."
That intensity showed up with 2:41 left in the first half and the Bobcats pinned deep in their own territory. Following a running play where the Eagles stopped forward progress, an altercation erupted and punches were thrown after the whistle. Two Huntsville players -- seniors Logan McCullough and Chad McCone -- were ejected. The Berryville players who were attacked attempted to remove themselves from the ruckus. Jerry Valdez and Jerry Schoe were also ejected after coming to the aid of teammates.
Daniel praised his team in the post-game huddle for showing some spirit while also being wise enough to not retaliate.
But it was a lone drive by the Eagles that resulted in an early third-quarter score that decided the outcome as both defenses were stingy in the first half. Berryville had a lapse in coverage on the possession, a 12-play, 63-yard drive that resulted in an 8-yard touchdown run by senior fullback Robert Fernandez.
"It was that drive coming down after the half that killed us," Daniel said. "They made an adjustment to what we were doing. We had three sophomores out there and we couldn't get adjusted until it was too late."
The 63 yards more than doubled the Eagles production of the first half as Berryville limited Huntsville's rushing attack to yards. The Eagles added just 26 more for the rest of the outing and finished with 125 yards on the ground.
"If we play defense like we did tonight and get our offense going we can be a playoff team, no doubt about it," said Berryville junior running back Ethan Chapin. "Defense, that's our thing right now. The sophomores are a big part of this team. They are only going to get better. Our defense is going to get stronger and hopefully our offense will get going. We just couldn't connect tonight."
Berryville did struggle to move the ball. Chapin led the ground game with 39 yards on seven carries. Deonte Payton followed with nine carries for 29 yards and Forest Usrey tallied 17 yards on nine carries. The Bobcats had 86 yards on the ground and 36 through the air. But penalties negated several big plays and the Cats were only 2 for 11 on third-down conversion attempts.
"Penalties were a big thing," Chapin said. "We played hard and did all we could do offensively. We will get that corrected this week. We should have beat them. We are a better team."
Berryville junior quarterback Cody Powell completed 2 of 13 passes for 36 yards, including a 23-yard completion to Chapin in the first half, one of the two third-down conversions. He was also picked off twice.
The Bobcat defense forced three turnovers. Sophomore John Tucker separated Huntsville running back Taylor Phillips from the ball in the opening quarter. Chapin came up with the loose ball and junior lineman Blake McCullough recovered a fumble just prior to the altercation and ejections. Junior defensive back Alec Jones provided the other turnover on a diving interception midway through the third stanza.
Despite the loss, Huntsville coach Tommy Tice said the Bobcats were much improved from last year.
"They have gotten a lot better," Tice said. "Coach Daniel has done a tremendous job."
Berryville continues gridiron action Friday night at Green Forest in the Carroll County Super Bowl for the Carroll County Cup.