After defeating the Academy of Richmond County (ARC) last Friday 32-7, the Burke County Bears find themselves in a mustwin situation this week against Baldwin County if they intend to bring home their seventh region title under head coach Eric Parker.
The Bears and the Braves are tied for the Region 3-AAAA lead at 2-0 heading into their contest this Friday night in Milledgeville. Burke County would need to win to secure the solo lead in first place. With the Bears’ big rivalry game against Thomson looming the following week, Burke County cannot afford to look past Baldwin to their final game of the regular season.
“It’s a big ball game,” Parker said. “We’ve got to win to knock them out. We cannot look past anybody.”
While Baldwin County is 3-5 for the season, that record can be misleading as the Braves have played what many would consider a challenging schedule to prepare themselves for Region play. They defeated Thomson last week by a score of 27-6.
For their part, the Bears continued to take care of business in their second Region matchup. Burke County racked up 470 total yards while holding ARC to 199. The Bears accounted for 99 yards through the air and 371 on the ground, most of that was during the second half when the Bears’ rushing attack chewed up yards as they moved the ball at will.
Leon McGee, the BC Player of the Game, was responsible for 136 of those yards on 16 carries and 2 touchdowns in the second half.
“We found a comfort zone in the second half and were able to run our offense the way we like. We found a groove and were able to put it away,” Parker said.
Burke County began the night in decent field position on their own 37 yard line. That drive ended however with an ARC interception in the end zone. On the ensuing possession, the Musketeers would drive 80 yards to score on a 21-yard run by Clydell White. The successful point after would put ARC on the board first 7-0.
The Bears would get their first points of the night early in the second quarter on a reverse pitch from junior quarterback Michael Johnson to senior Devin Wilson. Jacob Hickman’s point after would be blocked to make it 7-6 game.
ARC would put themselves in good field position on the kickoff running it back to the Bears’ 44. The Musketeers would see their drive fall short when their own quarterback, Mason Cobb, fumbled on the Bears’ 5-yard line and the ball rolled through the back of the end zone for a touchback.
Makail Roberson would score on a 1-yard run on the following set of downs but ARC would stop a Bears’ two-point conversion, keeping it a close game at 12-7 heading into half time.
The second half would be a different story however as the Bears gave ARC a heavy dose of “ground and pound” football led by McGee. He would cap off Burke’s first drive of the third quarter with a 2-yard touchdown run. The successful kick would put the Bears up 19-7.
Burke County would score on their next possession with another 1-yard run by Roberson. Hickman’s kick would hit the left upright however, stretching the Bears’ lead to 25-7.
A short time later, the Musketeers would get good field position on the Bears’ 20 off a questionable McGee fumble. Six plays later Demian Williams would put an end to that drive with an interception on the goal line.
Burke County would eat up lots of clock on their ensuing drive, going 97 yards and culminating in a 13-yard touchdown run by McGee. Hickman’s kick would bring the final score of 32-7.
Kickoff for Friday’s game in Milledgeville is set for 7:30 pm. Parker said he hopes Bears’ fans will make the trip for what could be the most important game of the season so far.
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