Bears lose momentum late, come up short against Pearl River during Homecoming

Published 1:37 pm Monday, October 24, 2022

In the final regular season home game of the season, it was a combination of penalties and missed
opportunities that cost the Bears in the end as they fell 31-21 to the Pearl River Wildcats on Homecoming and
Sophomore Day.

“It was self-inflicted wounds and you can’t win football games like that,” Southwest head coach Cliff Collins
said. “I told the guys you need to go in and re-evaluate yourself. The penalties hurt us.”

The Bears (2-6, 1-5) committed 14 penalties on the night for 158 yards. In addition they had difficulty slowing
down the Wildcat rushing attack, who racked-up 169 yards on the ground.

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Southwest was unable to make the early statement on defense as the Wildcats scored on the first possession of
the game. Marquis McCoy hauled in a 13-yard touchdown pass from Lawson Pratt and with the Michael
Owens extra point Southwest trailed 7-0.

The deficit did not last long, however, as the Bears answered right back. Jacoby Bellazar took the kickoff
down to the Pearl River 40 yard line setting the Bears up with great field position. From there, a 5-play drive
culminated with a five-yard touchdown run by Damuriyon Montgomery. Tres Ladner connected on the extra
point tying the game at 7.

With the momentum on their sides, the Bear defense used it to their advantage, getting a turnover as Demarcus
McGilberry pounced on a Pratt fumble, giving the hosts the ball back at midfield.

Unfortunately though, the Bears could not capitalize and was forced to punt.

The Bear defense stepped up once again in the second quarter, as this time it was Martavius Evans ripping the
ball away from Wildcat rusher Nick Milsap, halting a threat by the visitors who moved the ball down into the
red zone.

The momentum didn’t last long as the Bears once again were unable to capitalize following the turnover and
was forced to punt.
Just two plays into the ensuing drive a third fumble was caused by the Bear defense as Javier Simmons
knocked the ball from the grasp of Shadamien Williamson before Buddy Felder pounced on it giving
possession back to the Bears.

And in an unfortunate act of déjà vu, the Bears could not produce any points following the takeaway.

Following another Southwest punt, Pearl River marched down the field before breaking the 7-7 tie as Pratt
tossed his second touchdown of the night, this time to Antonio Gayden from 14 yards out putting the Bears
down 14-7 late in the first half.

After both teams traded punts to open the third quarter, the Bears pulled even once again, and in dramatic
fashion. Cameron Davis — who entered the game at quarterback for and injured Chris Roberson — tossed a
59-yard touchdown to Bellazar on the first play of the drive. Ladner added the extra point making it a 14-14

The Bears regained possession following a Wildcat punt and put together a promising drive. Davis led the
Bears down to the Pearl River 31 yard line but Southwest came up just short on a 4 th -and-short giving the ball
back to the visitors.

Pearl River responded with a 14-play drive before taking a 17-14 lead following a 26-yard Michael Owens
field goal.

During the drive, there was a scary scene as Simmons suffered what Coach Collins later said was a broken
tibia. Simmons remained down for several minutes while being tended to by trainers before being stretchered
off the field.

“I hate to see any young man who goes off on a stretcher and he was hurt,” Collins said. “He is a guy who does
everything that I ask him to do and shows up to work each and every day.”

Both teams once again traded punts before the Bears took their first lead of the game on a 43-yard touchdown
pass from Davis to Jeremiah Ratliff followed by a successful extra point by Ladner.

With Southwest up 21-17 with just over 8:00 to go, the Bears were hoping to use the momentum built to
maintain that lead but multiple penalties on the ensuing drive hurt Southwest as Pearl River took advantage
before scoring on a 3-yard run by Milsap. With the extra point, the Bears trailed 24-21 with 3:17 to go.

Hoping for one last push to re-take the lead, the Bears fell behind further after a pick-6 made the score the
eventual final.

Davis finished with 191 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. On the ground, Montgomery had 69
yards and a score while Bellazar hauled-in three passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. Ratliff had three
catches for 77 yards and a score.

Defensively, Hunter Lee led the way with 12 tackles. James Gardner and Jameer Lewis both had two tackles
and sack apiece.

The Bears wrap the regular season Thursday at Holmes. Kickoff from Goodman is scheduled for 3 p.m.