First place was on the line Friday night as the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Bears played the Splendora Wildcats. Both teams entered the game undefeated in district. The Bears remained without a district loss when the game ended. The Bears hung on for a 34-27 win at Wildcat Stadium.
Little Cypress-Mauriceville (4-2, 2-0) enjoyed a 27-point lead before a late comeback by the Wildcats. Splendora (4-2, 1-1) suffered its first district loss in two seasons.
Turnovers were the key to the first half. Two interceptions by the Bears resulted in 13 points for Little Cypress-Mauriceville.
Splendora took the opening kickoff and ran the ball 25 yards to the Bears’ 37. Wildcat quarterback Cody Thorndyke’s first pass was picked off by Carson Peet who returned the ball to the Wildcats’ 19. After a Splendora penalty Landon Bearden carried twice for six yards and a first down at the eight.
Bear quarterback Ethan McCollum took over from there carrying twice and scoring the touchdown from the four. Robby Wedel added the point-after to give LC-M a 7-0 lead with only 4:32 gone in the game.
The Wildcats went back to the ground game and marched fifty yards to a first-and-goal at the Bears’ four. The next two running plays were tackled for losses back to the eight. Thorndyke looked right and then threw to the back left-hand corner of the end zone to Jagger Kennedy who made the catch for the tying touchdown with just over four minutes left in the first quarter.
A special team play by Peet helped set up the next scoring drive by Little Cypress-Mauriceville. He returned the only punt of the first half 20 yards to give the Bears the ball at midfield.
DJ Williams caught a pass from McCollum and eluded the first tackler taking the ball to the Wildcats’ 17. McCollum rolled left and snuck into the corner of the end zone for the touchdown. Wedel’s kick gave the Bears a 14-7 advantage just under four minutes into the second quarter.
It looked like Splendora was driving for a possible equalizing score until Williams intercepted a pass from Thorndyke. Williams raced down the right sideline and was tackled from behind carrying the tackler into the end zone for a 65-yard touchdown on the interception return. The kick was blocked keeping the score 20-7 in favor of LC-M. That is how the first half ended.
The second half started with a positive drive by the Bears that was almost a carbon copy of the first touchdown in the first half. Bearden ran twice picking up a first down. McCollum gained seven yards to the 37. He then fumbled the snap on the next play, picked it up, and broke loose going in for a touchdown that stunned the Splendora faithful and gave the Bears a 19-point lead just 2:20 into the second half.
Next possession the lead was upped to the largest advantage in the game by Little Cypress-Mauriceville. McCollum picked up a big first down going under center and running for 21 yards to the Wildcat 23. On second down from the 24 McCollum threw long and Brandon Pollack made a great leaping catch in the end zone between two defenders for the touchdown. McCollum ran the two-point conversion just inside the left pylon to make the score 34-7 with 4:45 left in the third.
Two turnovers by the Bears kept the game close. A fumble between McCollum and Bearden was recovered by Daniel Orr who returned it four yards for a Wildcat touchdown late in the third.
Little Cypress-Mauriceville drove to a first-and-goal late in the third moving into the final period. On third down McCollum made his only ill advised pass of the game which was intercepted by Kennedy in the back of the end zone. The Wildcats scored two late touchdowns to close the gap to the final seven points.
McCollum had a strong game running for 84 yards on 19 carries. He passed for 144 yards completing 12 of 20 passes. Williams was the leading receiver with 9 catches for 89 yards. His pick-six was the margin of difference.
Next week will find Little Cypress-Mauriceville playing at home against the Livingston Lions. Splendora will try to rebound on the road at the Huffman Falcons who also undefeated in district.
-Dan Perrine, KOGT-
photo by Jarrod Brown, KOGT-
LCM 7 13 14 0- 34
SPL 7 0 7 13- 27