MELBOURNE -- Green Forest's comeback bid for it's first win of the season came up just short Friday night in a 20-14, 1-3A Conference loss to Melbourne.
After a scoreless first quarter, Melbourne jumped out to a 6-0 lead and maintained that advantage until half time.
"It was a defensive struggle the first half," Green Forest coach Jay Martin said. "We made a goal-line stand early in the game and had the ball in scoring position a couple of times and didn't convert."
The Bearkats (3-2, 1-1) went up 12-0 in the third period and took advantage of a Green Forest fumble later in the frame to lead 20-0. Green Forest quarterback Treyton Anderson connected with Clayton Watson from 27 yards out before the quarter expired and the duo reunited in the fourth on a six-yard toss to climb to within six points.
The Tigers recovered an on-side kick with nine minutes left in regulation but couldn't convert on a fourth down in Bearkats territory with two minutes remaining and Melbourne expired the clock to seal the victory.
"We didn't lay down," Martin said. "We kept fighting the whole game. I don't know if it was because we had the bye week or because of the long bus ride but we came out a little flat. The defense played well but the offense was a little stuck at first."
Anderson finished the game with 89 passing yards on 12-of-18 attempts and a pair of scores with Watson being on the receiving end of both. Watson hauled in six catches for 64 yards, Gustin Byers caught four for 21 yards and Dalton Ewing caught one for four yards.
Anderson led the ground game with 79 yards on nine carries, junior Cody Delozier followed with 64 yards on 14 attempts and junior Kevin Jimenez had 42 yards on 14 totes.
Junior Hector Lopez led the Tigers on defense with 11 solo tackles and a pair of assists, Ewing tallied six solo and seven assists, Delozier added five solos and a fumble recovery and sophomore added three solo stops.
Eric Perez and Hunter Ault had three solos and two assists each, Watson had three solos and three assists, Armondo Cernobio had two solos and four assists and Byers had two solos and six assists. Mackenzie Arciga chipped in with a solo stop.
The Tigers now focus on homecoming week and Friday's match-up against Yellville-Summit (2-3, 1-1). The Panthers are coming off a 1-point loss to Greenland.
"They play well defensively," Martin said. "They try to power you on offense and wear you down behind that big offensive line. They have just lost a few close games. But they are a good football team."