OAK GROVE – Despite a valiant effort, the Basile Bearcats could not overcome the size, speed and numbers of the Oak Grove Tigers, as they fell 34-6 here Friday night in the Class 1A quarterfinals.
With the loss the eight game winning streak of the Bearcats comes to an end, as Basile finishes with an overall record of 9-4.
“Talk about a great effort,” stated Basile head coach Kevin Bertrand. “I am so proud of our kids. They gave everything they had. I know sometimes it is a cliché, but they literally left everything on the field tonight. The score is not indicative of the game.”
Oak Grove came into the game with two distinct advantages: size up front and the ability to play very few players both ways. The Tigers utilized both advantages throughout the game to come away with the big win.
It was the first possession of the game that Oak Grove showed their size advantage. After forcing Basile to punt the ball away on the opening drive of the game, the Tigers began to pound the ball on the ground at will.
Taking over at their one-yard line after a 42-yard punt from Bearcat punter Stormy Comeaux, Oak Grove managed to get out of the shadow of their goal line with five runs. Facing a second and nine from their 13-yard line, Tiger quarterback Kameron Holloway busted loose for a 12 yard gain.
Two plays later, senior running back Donald Gray broke free for a 59 yard touchdown run down the right sideline. The extra point was good from kicker James Clack and Oak Grove owned a 7-0 lead with 5:05 left in the first quarter.
Basile was not able to do much with the football offensively in the entire first half. But, the Bearcat defensive unit found a way to stiffen after the Tiger’s first touchdown drive, even forcing an Oak Grove fumble inside Basile terrritory. The Bearcats and the Tigers traded punts throughout the remainder of the first quarter and deep into the second quarter.
The Tigers managed to get things going again late in the second period. Getting the ball at their 39-yard line after a Basile punt, Oak Grove did not take long to get on the board once more. Gray was replaced by Otis Moore in the backfield, and Moore showed his agility and speed rushing for 46 yards on his first two carries.
With the ball at the Bearcat 11-yard line, fullback Ladarious Ward gained three yards. The very next play, Moore scooted in from eight yards out on a counter play for the score. The extra point snap was bobbled, resulting in a botched extra point. However, the Tigers had increased the lead to 13-0 with 4:16 left in the half.
Basile did manage to get the ball into Oak Grove territory on their next two drives, but was unable to come away with any points. As the two teams headed into the locker room, the score remained 13-0 in favor of the Tigers.
The Bearcats, as they have done all season long, came out on a mission to start the second half. After Oak Grove scored on a 51 yard touchdown run by Moore on their first possession of the third quarter to make it 20-0, Basile took control of the momentum.
Getting the ball at their 26-yard line after the ensuing kickoff, the Bearcats began a methodical drive using the running game to perfection. With Basile changing strategies and going to a wing slot formation, the Bearcats slowly moved the ball down the field.
On the twelfth play of the drive, fullback Andre Reed plunged in from one yard out to put the Bearcats on the board for the first time in the game. Jacob Guillory’s extra point was no good, but Basile had cut the lead down to 20-6 with 4:40 left to go in the third quarter.
“When we went into the locker room, we talked about using our wing formation,” said Bertrand. “It has been our best formation all year long. We were able to start using some of misdirection because of their aggressiveness. It is something that we go back on when we need things to happen.”
Oak Grove got the ball back at their 25-yard line with the kickoff return. Six plays later, the Tigers found themselves with a fourth and three situation at the Basile 48-yard line. However, the Bearcat defense stiffened once again, forcing an illegal touching penalty on the Tigers.
On the turnover on downs, Basile got the ball at the Oak Grove 47-yard line. The Bearcats once again mounted a drive, reaching the Tiger 19-yard line. But, on fourth and six, quarterback Dawson Ashford was sacked, ending the drive and basically ending the Basile momentum for the game.
From that point on, it was all Oak Grove. The Tigers scored twice more. The first touchdown came on a 23-yard run from Moore at the 9:11 mark of the fourth quarter, with the second touchdown coming on a blocked punt at the 7:23 mark. It was the freshness of Oak Grove that made the difference in the final part of the game.
After the game, Bertrand praised his seniors for their dedication to the team and the program.
“We don’t have a whole lot of seniors, but the one’s we do have give their heart and soul to this team,” commented Bertrand. “They have shown next year’s seniors how to lead. We don’t use them a lot, but they do all of the dirty work. I am honored to have coached them.”