MOUNT IDA – Coach Zach Wuichet’s Mount Ida Lions proved the prognosticators wrong tonight with a thrilling 30-18 victory over the visiting Bearden Bears. The win advances the Lions into the second round of the 2A Playoffs and a trip back to Des Arc next week.
Mount Ida entered the game a seven point underdog according to Hootens.com and the 2A football predections for the week. The Lions used the underdog tag as inspiration as they rolled to a 12 point victory over Bearden.
The Lions flashed glimpses of what they could do in the first half, but never quite put the plays together to finish their drives. In spite of their inconsistency Mount Ida was able to take a 7-6 lead into the half.
Mount Ida and Bearden struggled to find a rhythm early with both teams punting on their first drives.
The Lions were able to move the ball deep into Bear territory on their second drive, but a fumbled snap on fourth and three from the Bearden six yard line ended their drive without a score.
Bearden responded with a 96 yard six play drive that ended in an 18 yard Dominic Hammond pass to Jaylon Cones for a touchdown. The Bears lined up in the swinging gate, but the Lions were on the ball and stopped the extra point attempt short of the goal line. Bearden held a six point lead with 8:33 left in the first half.
Mount Ida responded with a 70 yard six play drive that ended in a four yard touchdown run by Jack Hoeksema. John Hoeksema hit the PAT and the Lions led 7-6 with 6:11 left in the half.
The Lions mounted one last drive in the first half, marching 86 yards to the Bear 10 yard line only to end the half on an incomplete pass.
The Third Quarter was a flurry of points with five touchdowns being scored between the two teams.
Bearden opened the first half with a four play drive that marched 48 yards to end in a goal line touchdown from Hammond to give Bearden a 12-7 lead with less than two minutes gone on the clock. The Bears turned to the swinging gate once again only to see Connor Sigman slam it shut with an interception.
Mount Ida responded with a nine play drive that marched 80 yards in just over four minutes. Caleb White toted the ball in for the touchdown at the 6:20 mark of the third quarter. John Hoeksema hit the PAT to give the Lions a 14-12 lead.
Undaunted, Bearden roared back to score on a four yard play by Hammond. The swinging gate failed again on the two point conversion attempt, but they held an 18-14 lead with 4:28 left in the third.
Mount Ida only needed three plays to reclaim the lead, this time for good. Caleb White flipped the field on a second and 12 from the Mount Ida 32. He raced down the home sideline before being pushed out of bounds at the Bearden 32 yard line. Baylor Bates finished the drive with a 32 yard touchdown run on the next play. White carried the ball into the end zone for the two point conversion to give Mount Ida a 22-18 lead.
Bearden looked poised to respond with another score. Hammond carried the ball to the Lion 30 yard line before a mass of bodies tried pushing the other down the field. In the chaos of the prolonged run the ball came loose and Ramsey Gilbert came out of the pile with the pigskin for Mount Ida. He was able to scamper to the Bear 30 yard line before being tackled.
White and Bates took turns carrying the ball with Bates finishing the drive with an 11 yard touchdown run. White got the call on the two point conversion and the Lions increased their lead to 30-18 with 1:41 left in the third.
Mount Ida’s defense tightened their belts in the remaining minutes of the game to hold the Bears scoreless for the remainder of the game. Caleb White pulled down an interception late in the third quarter. The Lions forced a punt on a fourth and nine from the Bearden 13 on the Bears’ lone drive in the fourth quarter.
Mount Ida controlled the ball for the final eight minutes and 50 seconds to claim the 12 point victory.
The win is the fifth of the season for the Lions and advances them to the second round of the 2A playoffs. They will travel to Des Arc who had a bye this week.