BGA (3-4) and FRA (1-4) haven’t had the greatest starts to the year. Both teams have had to cancel games due to COVID-19 and have had to deal with some roster turnover after losing a lot of seniors.
Plus, FRA started its season a month late due to the pandemic. Regardless, one thing that hasn’t changed is this rivalry game is the promise of some great football and FRA's Jeffrey Vercher battling for four quarters as BGA took the win 21-14.
Vercher, who plays both running back and linebacker for the Panthers, had a major impact on the game with 46 yards rushing, a touchdown, and five tackles. He even ended getting injured in the first half, came back in for second half and still was able to make plays on both sides of the ball.
“That’s Jeffery Vercher,” said FRA Coach Bill Whittemore. “He’s not gonna quit, he’s gonna finish and fight for his teammates to the end. I never count him out. That’s just his mentality. He never stops with the way he approaches this game and he brings it each game.”
It wasn’t the best start for FRA. The opening drive for BGA took about four minutes before the team found the end zone thanks to a powerful five-yard touchdown to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead.
A three and out for FRA gave the ball back to the Panthers and once again BGA wasted no time getting down field. It took a few more plays, but BGA quarterback Brett Brown found running back Zach Flores for a 34-yard passing touchdown.
Brown finished the game with 206 yards through the air and two touchdowns, while Flores and Sean Williams combined for over 100 yards rushing and all three of the Wildcat’s touchdowns.
BGA scored one more time to end the first quarter up 21-0 after a pass to Williams for a 35-yard touchdown.
FRA’s offense got off to a great start in the second quarter with the Panthers finding the end zone thanks to Conner Moore. Moore caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from QB David DeRocher to make it 21-7 at halftime. FRA would get close to scoring before the end of the first half, but ended up throwing an interception near midfield.
The third quarter was much like the second in that FRA had control for the majority of it. However, they were unable to find the end zone due to penalties costing them crucial yardage and the team throwing an interception near the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was an interesting to say the least. With 4:29 left in the game, after FRA fought its way back into the game the Panthers marched down the field and scored off of a 15-yard Vercher touchdown where he broke about five tackles on his way to the end zone.
With under three minutes to go and a 21 point lead shortened to just seven points, FRA brought out the onside the kick unit. The ball bounced to about the 40-yard line of BGA and was recovered by the Wildcats. However, the Wildcats fumbled the ball after the tackle and FRA took over in positive territory.
FRA tried its hardest to get into the end zone, converting on third down. The Panthers got to about the 20-yard line of BGA before they ran into a wall and found themselves at a fourth down and ten to go. DeRocher scrambled around, trying to make a play and threw it into the arms of a BGA corner to end the game so close to the end zone.
“They’re a tough football team, man,” said Whittemore. “They play downhill very well. They got up on us pretty fast. We’re having a hard time getting moving, so we’re taking it step by step and getting better each week. Our guys are fighting to the finish, it’s just yet to climb over that hump. I’m proud of the way they finished, it just wasn’t enough tonight.”
Tonight’s win was BGA’s first win in the region as the Wildcats move one game closer to .500 in the win/loss column. BGA moves on to a Thursday road game at Lincoln County.
For FRA, the Panthers play South Gibson at home after their fall break. South Gibson has gotten the best of Panthers as they are yet to win against them.
“They run the triple option. Nobody wants to play them,” said Whittemore. “They’re a tough physical football team. It’s a battle for us each time we play them.”