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For the second straight week, a highly-ranked team came to Taylorsville and left town with a win, but not without a scare as the Bears continue to prove they can compete with anyone on their schedule.
This past week, it was Anderson County who came calling. The 5A school sported an impressive 5-1 mark and survived a shootout, beating the Bears 54-33 in a game that was closer than that. Again, it was some timely mistakes and miscues that took a chance at an upset away from the Bears.
“We’re trying to teach our young team that we need to be more disciplined and the wins will come,” said Bears Coach Matt Powenski, whose team lost to undefeated North Oldham 33-28 the week before.
On Friday, a five minute stretch midway in the first half proved to be costly for the Bears.
Down 10-7, the Bears were moving the ball and Cameron Smith appeared to be heading for a first down on a run when he lost his footing and fell just about a yard short. The Bears punted but the Anderson returner brought it back to the Spencer County 29 yard line, setting up a quick score to put the Bearcats up 17-7. Then on the ensuing kickoff, Erico Smith ran up to field the kick, which bounced off his chest and an alert Anderson player was there to fall on the loose ball, setting up yet another score to inflate the lead to 24-7 with just under nine minutes left in the third quarter.
But instead of staring at the huge deficit with dread, the Bears began to climb back into the game. They took their next possession and drove down the field, capped off when Bryant Fowler caught a Kevin Hume pass in the endzone to tighten the score at 24-13. It remained that way until half-time.
The mistakes continued for Spencer County at the beginning of the second half, when they fumbled on the first play from scrimmage, giving Anderson County the ball at the Spencer County 19-yard line. As good teams do, the Bearcats took advantage of their opponent’s mistake and cashed in with a touchdown via a six-yard pass to go up 34-13.
But the Bears refused to give up. Erico Smith made up for his earlier fumble when he took the ball 80 yards for a touchdown run to pull the Bears closer at 34-19.
Then kicker Tyler Calvert, who struggled with extra points after being a perfect 17 for 17 all year, executed a successful onside kick that the Bears recovered. Spencer County took advantage of the good field position and Cameron Smith ran it in from a short distance out to cut the lead to 34-25 following a two-point conversion.
However, Anderson County struck back quickly, aided again my a mistake when Spencer County was called for a 15-yard personal foul, setting up the Bearcats for another score to put them up 41-25 midway through the third quarter.
Following a quick three and out series by the Bears and a punt, the Bearcats threatened to add to their lead with a field goal. However, the attempt was blocked and Fowler picked up the ball and raced to the endzone for an apparent score. However, the officials ruled the ball dead. A ruling that didn’t please the home crowd.
“We did hear a soft whistle but didn’t think it was an official. It was called an inadvertent whistle,” which stopped action.
The setback didn’t stop the Bears however. They tok possession as the third quarter came to an end and Erico and Cameron Smith took turns rushing the ball with Erico finally scoring to close the gap to 41-33 with still over ten minutes remaining.
Anderson County however would not let the Bears get any closer. Their quarterback took a snap, was scrambling in the backfield and then took off down the sideline on a run that ended when he ran over a Spencer County defender and made it to the end zone. They would add another late score to provide the final margin of 54-33.
Despite the loss, Powenski again said the tough competition the team is facing is making his team improve, even though their 2-5 record may not indicate it.
“We are playing the toughest schedule in our short history. As our team grows, we feel that we are getting better and the schedule will help us in the playoffs.”
The road doesn’t get any easier this week, as the Bears travel to Henry County to square off against the 6-2 Wildcats.
“Henry County is a tough team that plays hard,” said Powenski, who said the Bears still have a shot at hosting a playoff game, but they need to earn some wins.
For the game, Erico Smith had 267 all-purpose yards, including 187 yards rushing while Cameron Smith had 128 rushing yards.
Powenski said the Smith and Smith duo in the backfield has been a real offensive weapon for the Bears.
“They give us a one-two punch that we haven’t had before. They are playing great,” he said.
Defensively, Mitchell Guzman led the way with 11 tackles.