Football: Bobcats drop opener, but gain momentum late

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Ask Berryville coach Bryan Hutson for his thoughts on the Bobcats’ 42-20 season-opening loss last Friday at Cedarville and he cuts right to the chase.

“Well, I hate to lose,” Hutson said Monday. “And we lost. So that’s the first thing.”

Still, there were some good moments for the Bobcats, who scored all of their points in a span of less than one quarter of game time in the second half. Berryville picked up 310 yards of total offense — running for 195 yards and passing for 115. Three Bobcats had at least 64 yards rushing and six caught at least one pass.

“We just made some mistakes on both sides of the ball, at really inopportune times, whether it be a fumble or a couple of penalties here and there,” Hutson said. “It just seemed like it was right at inopportune times.”

Berryville’s opponent was no slouch. Cedarville is expected to contend for a conference championship in the 3A-1 this season, led by two-time all-state running back Darryl Kattich. The Bobcats hemmed Kattich in at times during Friday’s game but he broke free for enough big runs to finish with 194 yards on 21 carries.

“We had a lot of sophomores out there at times,” Hutson said. “And he’s a senior back. He’s going to get some yards.”

Berryville recovered an onside kick to open the game, but a high snap recovered for a six-yard loss on first down and two incomplete passes forced the Bobcats to punt. Kattich returned the kick to the Berryville 35 and scored eight plays later on an 8-yard run. A successful two-point conversion put Cedarville ahead 8-0 with 7:46 left in the first quarter.

The Pirates added to their lead with a 12-yard touchdown run by Hayden Morton on a fourth-and-8 with 8:49 left in the second quarter, then recovered an onside kick of their own at midfield and scored four plays later on a 38-yard run by Morton to make it 20-0 at halftime.

Cedarville used a trick play to stretch its lead in the third quarter. A Pirate running back took a handoff to the left, then handed the football on a reverse to wingback Bruce Turney, who raced 79 yards for a touchdown and a 26-0 lead with 3:36 left in the quarter.

Berryville answered on its next possession, however. Junior Tun Oo broke free off up the middle and sprinted to the end zone for a 53-yard touchdown run.

Cedarville regained the momentum with a 4-yard touchdown run by Morton, who then added a two-point conversion to make it 34-6. The Pirates scored their final touchdown on an 18-yard touchdown pass and converted another two-point play for a 42-6 lead with 9:45 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Berryville’s offense started to click on its next two possessions. First, the Bobcats drove 62 yards in six plays for a touchdown, highlighted by sophomore quarterback Chris Hipps’ 36-yard completion to classmate Douryon D’obron, who caught the ball at the Cedarville 11 after it was tipped by a Pirates defender. That set up a 3-yard touchdown run by senior running back Jaeden Tanksley with 4:00 left to play.

Cedarville muffed the ensuing kickoff and Berryville recovered at the Pirates’ 40. Two plays later, Hipps kept the ball up the middle, broke free from two would-be tacklers and bounced to the left sideline before streaking into the end zone to complete a 33-yard touchdown run. Hipps then ran for a two-point conversion to set the final score at 42-20.

Will Berryville’s late surge give the Bobcats some momentum going into this week’s game against West Fork?

“Honestly, I hope so,” Hutson said. “When we didn’t make those mistakes, we seemed to have some success. And so we’ve got to make sure — we can’t put ourselves really far behind the chains with stupid penalties or a bobbled snap or a fumble we recover, stuff like that. Stuff like that you can correct. I’m proud of the kids continuing to compete and making it into somewhat of a ballgame there in the fourth quarter.”

Tanksley led a balanced Berryville running attack with 68 yards, while Hipps finished with 65 and Oo had 64. All three had one touchdown. The Bobcats completed 11 of 23 passes for 115 yards.

On Friday, Berryville hosts a West Fork team that will be playing its first game of the season after COVID-19 issues forced the postponement of the Tigers’ scheduled game against Green Forest last week. Hutson said that as of Monday morning, West Fork was clear to play this week.

“Last year, they were much improved from where they had been in the past,” Hutson said. “And they run something that not a lot of people do. They run the Flexbone stuff. So it’s assignment football. It’s another tough task for a very young defense.”

The Bobcats beat West Fork 41-0 to open the 2019 season in the two teams’ most recent meeting. They were scheduled to play last season, but that game was canceled after several Berryville players and coaches were quarantined because of COVID-19.

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