Rider slips past Bears 28-24

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by A.C. Hall

In what could be the deciding game in the Brewer season, the Bears gave one of their best performances of the year against one of the district’s top teams.  Facing Wichita Falls Rider in the friendly confines of BHS Stadium on Friday night, the Bears quickly learned why Rider is one of the district’s best.  Rider scored a touchdown on each of their first three drives, striking with both runs and deep passes.

The Bears offense showed some fire early in the game too, moving the ball well on their opening drive before failing to convert a fourth down play.  Brewer would eventually score twice in the second quarter.  After attempting just one passing play all game, Brewer’s starting quarterback Brian Kueck hit two sensational passes in the second quarter, one leading to a 23 yard touchdown by standout wide receiver Brian Lopez.  Lopez finished the game with 5 catches for 125 yards.

At halftime the score was Rider 21, Brewer 14, but there were two major storylines emerging in the game.  First was the Brewer defense.  After giving up over 100 points in the last two weeks and giving up three straight touchdowns to start this game, the defense came alive.  They shut down the Rider offense for the remainder of the first half and would extend that dominance through nearly the entire second half as well.

Then there was the injury to Brewer’s star running back Jameson Carson.  He’s been the most important part of Brewer’s offense so far this season, but Carson went down in the second quarter and was out of his pads and on crutches when he came back to the field in the second half.  The loss of Carson is huge.  This young man has had an amazing season and his absence leaves a major hole in the offense.

Two Bears were ready to step up and fill the spot on Friday night, the first being Bryce Miller.  He’s had limited opportunities this season, but Miller came in and got several chances after Carson’s injury and showed he’s a weapon opposing teams should fear.

Then there’s big Eric Worlds, the Brewer powerhouse who has specialized in short yardage situations this year.  Worlds is a battering ram and almost never fails at grabbing up small chunks of yardage when he runs, but on Friday night he proved that he can be much more than that.  Getting a chance to step in as the feature back, Worlds gave a masterful performance, gaining 143 yards on 23 attempts.

Moving into the third quarter, Brewer used another big passing play to get into the redzone.  They settled for a field goal on the drive, making it Rider 21, Brewer 17.  The defense came up with a huge interception soon after, giving the Brewer offense another chance to put up points.  The offense delivered, this time thanks to a 26 yard Worlds touchdown run.  That score gave Brewer their first lead of the night at 24 – 21.

As the fourth quarter got underway, time was melting off the clock.  Brewer chewed up a ton of time on two consecutive drives as the Rider offense continued to look completely flat.  After their first three touchdown possessions in the game, Rider’s next five possessions consisted of a punt, a punt, an interception, a punt, and a punt.

One of the big decisions of the game came with 2:30 remaining.  Facing a fourth down and 1 situation at midfield and holding onto a 3 point lead, the Brewer coaches decided to punt the ball instead of risking going for the first down and failing.  With just over 2 minutes remaining, this would set up the final Rider possession of the game.

Facing a fourth down and 9 with 1:33 on the clock, Rider pulled off a long pass play to get the first down and keep their slim hopes alive.  Time was against them, but they continued to move the ball.  By the time they reached the Brewer 30 yard line there was just thirty seconds remaining in the game.

Rider got their final play off with the clock going below 10 seconds, throwing a desperate pass into the back of the endzone where a Rider receiver caught it as he went out of bounds.  All of Brewer nation saw the catch, and all of Brewer nation fully believed the catch had been made out of bounds.  However, the officials on the field ruled it a touchdown, and with just 3 seconds remaining in the game Rider stuck a dagger in Brewer’s heart and took a 28 – 24 lead.   Brewer would have time for one play after the kickoff, but they were unable to pull off a miracle, losing the game 28 to 24.

If a team has to lose, you at least want them to do it like this.  The Bears gave an incredible performance on all sides of the ball and ended the night with a lot to be proud of.  After the early part of the game the defense was masterful, Miller and Worlds were outstanding running the ball, and Kueck and Lopez showed that the passing game still has some teeth.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the standings, there was even more bad news than the Brewer loss.  Bears fans were counting on having a fighting chance at the post season despite the loss, but an upset by Azle might have put an end to those hopes.  Everyone expected the upcoming game at Azle to be one that could vault the Bears back into playoff contention, but now that Azle sits atop the district standings at 4 and 1 a win there would be just one of many dominoes Brewer would need to have fall their way in order to get into the post season.

Brewer currently sits at 2 wins, 3 losses in district play, putting them in sixth position in the district standings.  Azle and Rider are tied for first at 4 and 1, with Denton, Boswell, and Wichita Falls all tied at 3 and 2 after that.  For the Bears to make the playoffs, they must win their final two games and they must have some of these teams above them take a mighty tumble.

Brewer’s playoff chances may be fading, but they’re nonexistent without a Brewer win on Friday night against Azle.  Kickoff is at 7:00 pm at Azle High School.

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