The Lions (5-6) jumped out to a 13-0 lead, led 13-6 at halftime and 27-14 late in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hold on. The No. 9 and top-seeded Bears (10-1) scored a pair of touchdowns in the final 2:17 to force overtime and scored the only touchdown of the extra frame for the win.
Even with a first-round exit, second-year Lion coach Grant Chesnut knows his team took a big step in 2012.
“They played their hearts out. I’m so proud of them and am honored to be their coach. I really am. Those kids gave us everything they’ve got and they’re a whole lot of fun to coach. We took some big steps forward in our program [Friday] despite the loss. It was extremely important for us to ride six hours, get off the bus and play like we did. We played well. We played with a lot of heart and a lot of toughness,” Chesnut said.
The scoring started when Josh Dunson blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown and the 7-0 lead. In the second quarter, Wesley Long took it in himself from one-yard out for the 13-0 advantage.
With just under five minutes left in the half, Pierce County got on the board to make it a seven-point game at the break, 13-6.
Long added his second touchdown run — this time on a five-yard carry — to go up 20-6. But on the final play of the quarter, Pierce County had a long pass and two-point play to make it 20-14.
Again, it was Dunson scoring without being on offense, as he picked up a fumble and went 22 yards for the score and the 27-14 lead with 10:11 left in the game.
With just over two minutes left, the Bears got a 75-yard fumble recovery returned for a touchdown and then after stopping the Lions on fourth down, scored with 48 seconds left in the game.
“We turned the ball over and they did a good job, picked it up and scored on it. Then we turned it over to them on downs,” Chesnut said. “We went for it on fourth down and gave them a short field. They made a couple plays.”
Central had the first possession in the overtime period, but was unable to score and the Bears got a 15-yard touchdown run to win the game.
Now, after a short time off, the Lions will get back to work and get ready for next season.
“We made a lot of progress this year. I look forward to next year and see our program continue to move forward,” Chesnut said.