For five weeks the Booneville defense has, more often than not, been heralded as the unit carrying the Bearcats to an undefeated start of the 2018 season.
Friday night at Jonathan Ramey Memorial Stadium in Greenland the Bearcats needed their offense. Turns out they’re pretty good too.
Despite allowing 27 first half points the Bearcats (6-0, 3-0 Conference 3A-1) led Greenland by a touchdown, 34-7. With the defense having made adjustments to stop the Pirates, the offense was unstoppable in running away from the Pirates (3-3, 1-2) for a 62-34 win.
Along the way Carson Ray became the eighth Bearcat player to score at least five touchdown and the first one to do so since Anthony Napier became just the third member of the six touchdown club in 2011.
Ray ran for 144 yards on just 12 carries and scored four touchdowns. He also caught a touchdown pass from Evan Schlinker for a fifth score.
Collectively the Bearcats had 526 yards with three rushers eclipsing the century mark as Michael Hesson ran for 106 and Andrew Robertson for 105.
Schlinker also threw for 131 yards on 6-of-7 passing with two touchdowns. Ethan Dobbs accounting for three catches for 95 yards.
That’s not to say the defense took the entire night off. After halftime, the Pirates managed a late score while the clock ran and 95 total yards, 65 which came as the clock ticked away after the lead had reached 35 points, 62-27 with 9:28 to play.
Greenland successfully executed an onside kick to start the game with Zach Gilbert recovering at the Bearcat 43-yard line. The Pirates weren’t finished with surprises pulling out a double pass with Gilbert catching a second pass for a 40-yard gain.
A false start and Noah Reyes’ first tackle for a loss backed the Pirates up but Levi Vaughn hit Zaylen Bryant for a 9-yard touchdown and with 11:04 left in the opening quarter the Bearcats were behind, 6-0. The point after was wide.
The offense responded with three scores in less than just 5:03.
Ethan Pirraglia recovered the next onside kick at the Bearcat 47 and six plays later Hesson scored from the 2 to tie it. Gilbert blocked Kent’s PAT try to keep it 6-6.
Gabe Fennell made a diving interception of a Vaughn pass at midfield to get the ball back for the Bearcats and Ray went 50 yards on the next play and Schlinker connected with Dobbs for a 2-point conversion to make it 14-6 with 7:42 left in the opening quarter.
After forcing a Pirate punt, which Dobbs returned 19 yards to the Bearcat 49, the Bearcats needed three plays to score.
Robertson got 36 yards to start it and Ray scored from the 3 to make it 20-6 with still 6:01 left in the quarter. Gilbert blocked Kent’s PAT kick again.
Greenland kept the ball for the next 4:50 and scored on a 3-yard Vaugn to Ethan Holte pass to get back within 20-13 but the Bearcats would answer with two more touchdowns and appeared ready to put the game away.
On the first play of the second quarter Dobbs and Schlinker connected for a 50-yard touchdown and it was 26-13. A try for 2 failed.
The next Pirate series included a pass to an offensive lineman which helped force a punt and the Bearcats would make it 34-13 on a 10-yard run by Ray with 5:35 left in the half.
A 48-yard Vaughn to Bryant pass set up a 1-yard run by Hayden Stout to get the Pirates back to within 34-20 with 1:51 left in the half.
Vaughn finished 9-of-18 throwing the ball for 125 yards.
The Bearcats were not content to take the lead to the half and moved into Greenland territory only to fumble the ball.
Greenland took advantage of the extra possession on a 1-yard Vaughn run with 21 seconds left in the half to make it 34-27.
The Pirates also had Holte intercept Schlinker on the final play of the half. Holte got back to the Bearcat 20 before Schlinker shoved him out of bounds.
Greenland started the second half with the football but the Bearcats forced a three-and-punt then went 46 yards in just five plays with Hesson scoring from the 3 and Kent adding the PAT to make it 41-27.
After forcing another Pirate punt the Bearcats needed nine plays to score on a fourth down Schlinker to Ray pass that covered 4 yards and made it 48-27 with 2:44 left in the third quarter.
On its next possession the Pirates faced a fourth-and-1 at their 44. The attempt would go for lost yardage as Cort Mizell and Marcus Nichols blew up the play.
From there the Bearcats needed four plays to score with Robertson getting the touchdown from the 7 to make it 55-27 with 11:56 remaining.
Dobbs picked off a Vaughn pass and returned it to the Greenland 13 but a sportsmanship penalty moved the ball back to the 28. Ray scored from there to make it 62-27 with 9:28 to go.
With the clock running the Pirates kept the ball the rest of the game, getting on the board again on a 4-yard run that made it 62-34.
The Bearcats will be home this Friday to face Mansfield. The Tigers cut down Charleston 22-10 last week and will bring the same 6-0 overall and 3-0 Conference 3A-4 mark to Doug Scheel Field at Bearcat Stadium that the Bearcats sport.