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Indians rally for 14-13 victory over Bears

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By John Shindlebower

Entering the fourth quarter, Spencer County appeared to be headed for their fourth victory of the season as they led 5A Montgomery County 13-0. However, things began to unravel for the Bears in the final frame as they give up two quick scores and let the Indians escape with a  14-13 win on Homecoming Night.

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“It’s a perfect illustration of how quickly the outcome of the game can change no matter how well you played the first three quarters of the game,” said Bears Coach Wes Napper, whose team fell to 3-3 on the year.

“This was a tough loss to take due to the fact that our defense played so well,” he said.

Indeed, the Bears defense played their best game of the season, holding the visitors scoreless through most of the game.

That stellar defensive stand started on the first series of the game when the Indians appeared ready to take their first possession downfield for a score. They had a first and goal just inside the 10 yard line but the Bears were able to stop that drive and took over on downs.

It was a defensive struggle much of the first half and when the Indians threatened again late in the first half, the defense rose to the occasion again when junior Josh Caster stripped the ball from a Montgomery County ball carrier and was able to fall on the loose ball at the Bears’ 7 yard line with just a little more than 90 seconds left in the half.

An Erico Smith pass to Trey Wyatt took the ball up to midfield, but the play was called back on a holding penalty. Kevin Hume then picked up 15 yards on a carry and Cameron Smith busted a long run all the way down to the Indians 12-yard line with just one minute remaining. On the next play, Smith finished off the drive with a 12-yard carry for a touchdown. The extra point attempt failed when there was a problem with the hold, and the Bears clung to a 6-0 lead at the half.

Spencer County came out in the third quarter and scored from their first play from scrimmage on a 70-yard TD run by Erico Smith. This time the kick was good and the Bears led 13-0.

Again, the Bears defense rose to the occasion as the Indians threatened deep in Spencer County territory, only to have a pass intercepted by Wyatt to stop that drive.

Entering the final quarter, Montgomery County took over on their own 34-yard line and was able to move down the field, scoring on a 13-yard pass play with just over nine minutes remaining to cut the lead to 13-7.

Spencer County took over after the kickoff at their own 20 but a quick fumble set up the Indians inside the Bears’ 20-yard line. They would score a few plays later on a quarterback keeper and the extra point gave the Indians a 14-13 lead with just under seven minutes remaining.

The Bears had the ball near midfield and facing a fourth and very short, were stopped short of the marker and had to give the ball up. From there, the Indians were able to move the ball and the chains to keep the clock ticking as they ran the time out and held on for the come-from-behind victory.

After the game, Napper said he talked to the team about the importance of not letting the other team hang around.

“We discussed with the guys about the need to finish a team off when we have the opportunity,” he said.

Napper was pleased with the Bears’ defense, which coming into the season, was the unit with the most questions.

“Our defense played very well Friday night. They only gave up one sustained drive for the game and that didn’t come until the fourth quarter,” said Napper. “We held Montgomery County to under 100 yards in the first half and under 300 yards for the game. They were big and physical and our defense rose to the challenge.”

On offense, Napper said the team is still trying to work on a passing game.

“It is no surprise to anyone that the running game is this team’s strength,” said Napper. For the game, the Bears totaled over 300 yards on the ground with a balanced attack, which included 128 yards for Cameron Smith, 93 yards for Erico Smith, 52 yards for Brian Harris and 33 yards for Kevin Hume.

However, Napper said that as district play looms, it’s important to be able to have a passing game as well.

“We are trying some different things with our offense and personnel groups to help out the passing game and open up some running lanes for us. In order for us to make a good run in district play and in the playoffs, we must have a semblance of a passing attack to keep the defense honest.”

Just like most other games this year, Friday’s contest came down to the final minutes and Napper said  close games like that, either wins or losses, can teach valuable lessons.

Those lessons may come in handy the next three weeks as they face Western Hills, North Oldham and Henry County in successive weeks.

“We are in the toughest district in 3A without a doubt,” said Napper.

All three of those teams have 4-2 records and Napper said he doubts any one of the teams will go undefeated in district play.

“The team that comes out on top will need to play with high intensity and passion the next three weeks along with getting some breaks. I think we’re capable of winning the district championship and I’m eager to get district play rolling.”

That starts Friday night when the Bears face the Western Hills Wolverines in Frankfort. Napper would love to see another big crowd of Spencer County fans at the game.

“We need to travel very well down there and be loud in the crowd. We have had a great following so far this year on our two road trips and I’m anticipating seeing 100 or 200 crazy Bear fans Friday in Frankfort.”