The Big Reds and Bobcats got together Saturday afternoon and engaged in a defensive battle of wills and after three hours of intense competition in the searing heat, the Big Reds used the advantage of an extra point in the third overtime to claim the hard-fought 20-19 victory.
Both teams’ defenses ruled the first half as they shut down the opposing offenses and the teams headed to the locker room at halftime with no score.
After senior Tenley Hughes was crowned Homecoming Queen during the halftime festivities, the Big Reds came out in the third quarter and lit the scoreboard first. After forcing the Bobcats to punt after a three-and-out, the Reds needed just six plays to cover 58 yards with senior QB Bobby Roth finding classmate AJ McCarthy for the 34-yd touchdown. Cole Porter’s PAT deflected wide bouncing off the left upright and the Big Reds led 6-0.
After the teams exchanged possessions, the Bobcats started out with a 1st-and-10 on their own 48-yd line and needed just one play to tie the game when QB Cody Moore completed a 52-yd touchdown pass down the right sideline. When sophomore linebacker Colt Sechrest blocked the extra point, the score was all tied 6-6.
The Bobcats took their first lead of the game with just under six minutes left in regulation when they took advantage of a Big Red’s turnover and set up a 1st and goal at the 5-yard line. The Bobcats needed just two plays when Travon Jeffery rambled in from two yards out for the score. With a successful PAT, the Bobcats led 13-6 with 5:18 to go in the game.
After both teams exchanged punts, the Big Reds took possession of the ball with 1:54 left in the game and needing to travel 76 yards to tie the game. After a loss of nine yards on 1st down, Roth went to work on his most impressive drive of the season. He completed a 15-yard pass to Porter setting up a critical 3rd-and-4. He connected with backup tight-end Andrew Littell for a seven-yard completion setting up a 1st-and-10 on their own 37-yard line. After an incomplete pass, Roth covered the final 66 yards in two plays. First he connected with Porter for a 30-yard gain and then he threaded the needle between two defenders to find Sechrest for the 33-yard touchdown with just :24 seconds remaining. After the clutch PAT kick by Porter, the teams were headed to overtime tied at 13.
Both teams failed to score in the first two overtimes setting up a dramatic third overtime. Cambridge struck first in the third extra session with a 20-yd touchdown pass from Moore to Justin Bartlett. After the PAT was missed, the Bobcats led 19-13 and the Big Reds had one last chance.
That’s when current AD and former head football coach Mike Sherwood gave what might be the most important suggestion of the season so far. Perched high in the press box with the coaches, he noticed that on a running play that we had run to the right throughout the game, the Bobcats defense started shifting and cheating in that direction. The team had not practiced it to the left side all week but Coach Spig used the break in between possessions to “draw it up in the dirt”. With the Bobcats fully expecting the play to go to the right and cheating their defense that way, Porter shocked the defense and rambled 17 yards to the left setting up a 1st-and-goal from the three-yard line. Two plays later, Roth bulled his way in from a yard out knotting the score at 19-19. Cambridge called a timeout to ice the kicker but to no avail as Porter calmly nailed the PAT right down the middle and the Big Reds escaped with a 20-19 victory.
Roth led the way through the air completing 20-of-42 passes for 206 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Porter led the ground attack with 17 carries for 41 yards while Sechrest led the team in receiving yards with 61 yards on three catches including one touchdown. Cody Albaugh led the defense with 11 tackles while Ethan Shaver added eight tackles.
The Big Reds return to action this Saturday when they host Beaver Local at 12:30pm.