The power went out to the visiting side press box in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game between Bradwell Institute and host Richmond Hill High School, leaving coaches with no way to communicate downstairs to the sideline.
It was just one more thing to go wrong for the Tigers, who fell 49-0 to the Wildcats in a lopsided game that got out of hand early for BI and turned crazy late.
Along the way, BI coach Jim Walsh Jr. was ejected for arguing a call and will miss next week’s game against Ware County as a result.
“I was defending my kids,” Walsh said, then praised his players’ effort in the loss, which drops BI to 1-7 overall and 1-6 in 3-AAAAA.
“That’s the thing about these kids. Our kids have played hard for us all year. I cannot fault their effort,” he said. “They want to do right. They’re going to play hard for us. You want to see them win. I want to see them win more than anything. They’ve been a great group to work with and there are some great kids in that group. ”
The Tigers did show mettle, but also showed a propensity for self-inflicted wounds.
Richmond Hill’s first four touchdowns came on drives of less than 50 yards and two resulted from BI turnovers as the Wildcats built a 28-0 lead with most of the second quarter left to play.
The Tigers, meanwhile, didn’t reach Richmond Hill’s side of the field until midway through the second quarter when BI got to the RHHS 36. The Tigers backed up from there and were forced to punt, one of eight attempts on the night for junior BI kicker Robert Miller.
Bradwell had few other opportunities. The Wildcats fumbled away their opening drive of the second half and BI recovered at the Richmond Hill 35. The Tigers eventually made it down to the Wildcat 20, but backed up.
Bradwell’s defense held, however, and the Tigers moved the ball down to the Richmond Hill 5 thanks in large part to a 59-yard pass from LeBaron Anthony to sophomore receiver Kirk Hill.
But the drive stalled, and Miller’s 23-yard field goal try sailed right.
That was as close as BI could get to scoring. That also set the stage for a wild end to the third quarter.
After RHHS punted, the Tigers took over on their own 29 and Anthony hooked up with tight end DaBrent Nobles for nine yards. But BI gave the ball up after a fourth-down-and-1 carry by DeAndre Day resulted in a measurement that came up just short.
On the Wildcats’ ensuing first-down play at the BI 30, a Tiger defender was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after he tackled backup quarterback Nick Fitzgerald after a short gain.
Walsh argued the call and was ejected with 47 seconds left in the third period. Officials then marched the ball down to the BI 5, setting up Richmond Hill’s fifth TD of the game.
The Wildcats, who hadn’t scored since early in the second quarter, scored on a 1-yard run from Fitzgerald on the first play of the fourth quarter to increase their lead to 35-0, then tacked on two more late TDs.
Though bright spots were hard to find for BI, there were a handful. Defensively, linebacker Greg Howard intercepted a pass and BI managed to keep Richmond Hill off the scoreboard for much of the second and third period.
Offensive highlights were few and far between. Along with his 59-yard bomb to Hill, Anthony also completed passes of 44 yards to Michael Burnett and 21 yards to Deon Stewart.
LeBaron finished with five completions in 21 attempts for 138 yards and was intercepted once. He also had a pass dropped in the endzone.
Bradwell gained 65 yards on the ground, much of it on runs by Day and Quonte Haggray. In addition, BI was penalized seven times for 120 yards and the Tigers fumbled six times, losing three. They also turned the ball over on a lateral.
“It’s been a struggle offensively for us all year long,” Walsh said. “But we’re not going to give up. We’re not going to stop. We’re going to keep working.”
Meanwhile, the Wildcats improved to 6-2 and 3-2 in the region and are clearly improving, Walsh said.
“They’re definitely getting better and they’ve got a good football team,” he said.
It doesn’t get any easier for Bradwell Institute, which now has to face Ware County (7-1, 5-0) – currently ranked anywhere from No. 4 to No. 10 in Class AAAA, depending on polls.
“We’ll bounce back and we’ll play hard,” Walsh said. “That’s what these kids have done for me all year and they’re going to continue to do that. That’s the kind of kids we’ve got. I’m proud of them and proud of the effort they give.”