Two times tragic

Published 11:55 pm Friday, November 14, 2008

LINDEN – The Billingsley Bears matched homestanding Linden touchdown for touchdown, but could only make one conversion, and that was again the difference as the Bears fell to the No. 3 Patriots 33-32 in the second round of the Class 1A playoffs.

In the teams’ previous regular-season match-up, Linden (12-0) won 27-26, stopping Billingsley (9-3) on a last-minute interception.

Junior Jamar Hopson led the way for the Bears, amassing 200 yards on 27 carries, scoring four of BHS’s five touchdowns. Quarterback Gerald Reese was 8-for-17 for 86 yards. Robert Speer returned a kickoff 90 yards for the Bears’ only other TD.

Billingsley trailed 14-6 at halftime and went to a 21-6 deficit before amassing a comeback. Billingsley began a third-quarter drive at its 35 and pushed the ball up the field, highlighted with a 37-yard run by Timothy Simon to the LHS 1-yard line. Hopson pushed the ball across with 3.9 seconds left in the quarter. The conversion failed, but Billingsley cut the Linden lead to 21-12.

The Patriots scored on a 40-yard run by Maurice Tate, who ran up 288 yards on 23 carries and scored three touchdowns in the game, to give LHS a 27-12 lead with 9:17 left in the game, but on the ensuing kickoff, Speer picked the ball up at the BHS 10 and ran to paydirt, giving the Bears another six to narrow the gap to 27-18 with 9:04 remaining.

Tate scored another Linden TD to make it 33-18, but on the next drive, Hopson again found daylight, rambling 60 yards for a Bears TD. The two-point conversion run by Simon made it 33-26 with 6:04 remaining.

On Linden’s next drive, the Patriots threw an interception pulled down by Bryant Reese near midfield with 5:04 left in the game.

Billingsley marched down the field, using a 13-yard pass from Gerald Reese to Hopson and a 15-yard run by Jerome Tyvus to get to the LHS 10. A nine-yard run by Simon set up a one-yard touchdown run by Hopson with 52.5 seconds remaining in the game to narrow the gap to 33-32.

The Bears set up a two-point conversion run, but the Patriot defense stopped Hopson short, sealing the win for Linden.

“When you’re playing a bunch like this, we knew that we would have a play or two designed for every formation,” said Billingsley head coach Kevin LeSeuer. “It was one of those things where we had to get in a formation, run two or three plays, then give them a different look. I thought there at the end, we had actually found something that they hadn’t adjusted to yet. We continued to go back to that, and just came up a yard-and-a-half short (on the two-point conversion).”

Billingsley ends its 2008 season at 9-3 overall and tied for second in 1A Region 3, gaining the No. 4 seed from that region. The Bears beat Region 4 top seed Wadley 18-10 in the first round of the playoffs last week.