Bradley Central and Ooltewah treated Region 2-6A football fans to an offensive showcase Friday night at James N. Monroe Stadium.
The two teams, meeting for the first time since 2014, started warming up offensively and the Bears took a 21-14 lead into the locker room at halftime. Bradley pulled away with a 14-point third quarter as its defense kept the Owls out of the end zone.
In the end, quarterback Dylan Standifer threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns, ran for a score and led the sixth-ranked Bears to a 42-35 shootout victory over the Owls in front of a good crowd at Ooltewah High School.
âExperience is a big thing and the game is starting to slow down for me,â said Standifer, who had touchdown passes of 6, 22 and 60 yards to Saylor Clark, Tray Curry and Lameric Tucker, respectively. Standifer also scored on 2-yard run to give the Bears a 42-21 lead with 4:22 left in the game.
Standifer completed 19-of-30 passes that produced two 100-yard receivers against the Owlsâ proud defense. Tucker had nine catches for 141 yards and Nick Howell added five receptions for 101 yards. Tucker also had 98 yards on two kickoff returns
âWe wanted to test their defensive backs to see how they would adjust to us,â Tucker said. âWatching film we saw how deep they like to play, so we were going to hit them with short-yardage routes until they stopped us.â
Bradley, which had lost three in a row and nine of the last 11 in the series with Ooltewah, saw Standifer heat up in the second period with a pair of TD tosses to Clark and Curry, a 13-year-old freshman, for a 21-14 halftime lead.
In the opening half, Standifer was 14 for 19 for 161 yards with two scores.
âDylan knew the coverages and the receivers knew what to do when they touched the ball,â Bradley coach Damon Floyd said. âOur staff did a good job preparing the offense and the line gave Dylan a lot of time to throw.
âAnd weâre going to get the ball to him as many times as we can. Heâs pretty special and you donât get many players like him.â
The game changed when Bradleyâs Parker Johnson broke though the line to block a Conor Terry punt near the goal line. Mason Mitchell fell on the ball in the end zone and the Bears had a 28-14 third-quarter advantage.
Mitchell finished with 8 Â½ tackles, including a sack and two tackles for minus-9 yards.
Less than three minutes later, Tucker and Standifer hooked up on the 60-yard touchdown play and the Owls were in big trouble.
âI thought our defense did a pretty good job stopping their run,â Owls coach Mac Bryan said. âThey got some things loose in the seams and made some plays throwing the ball, but theyâre going to make plays. We made some plays too. That number 15 (Tucker) is a pretty good player. Theyâre a good football team.â
Early in the fourth quarter, Ooltewah quarterback Kyrell Sanford escaped the Bearsâ defensive rush, moved to his left and threw back toward Andrew Manning in the end zone. Manning made an acrobatic catch for a 13-yard touchdown to cap a 72-yard, 11-play drive in 3 minutes and 11 seconds.
âI saw (Sanford) get out of the pocket and we went to our scramble drill and kept moving around,â said Manning, who led all receivers with 143 yards on five receptions. âHe did a great job seeing me and throwing the ball where I could get it.â
But the Bears had an answer. Again.
On the Owlsâ next possession, they moved into Bradley territory but the Bearsâ Kevin Gentry recovered a Tylan Cargle fumble at Ooltewahâs 38.
Six plays later Standifer scored from 2 yards out, pushing the Bearsâ lead to 42-21.
âWeâre not going to be ahead 28 points in the fourth quarter with the teams we face,â Bryan said. âItâs going to be close football where two or three mistakes will make or break the game. Weâve got a pretty good football team here; we just have to keep from hurting ourselves.â
Ooltewah quickly struck back.
On first down after the kickoff, the Owlsâ Sincere Quinn darted up the middle, avoided a couple defenders and raced 61 yards for a touchdown that used just 10 seconds of clock time. Quinn rushed for a game-high 107 yards on 17 carries.
âThey had the game going their way,â Bryan said, âbut really they didnât. We came back and eventually cut it to seven points.â
The Owlsâ onside kick attempt after Quinnâs long score failed, but the defense forced the Bears to punt.
Ooltewah took over on its own 23.
Sanford engineered an eight-play, 77-yard drive that ended with the quarterbackâs fourth TD pass, a 6-yard strike to Bryce Matthews with 4:02 left.
The Owls tried a second onside kick, but the Bearsâ Howell caught the line drive kick and Bradley was able to run out the clock.
Sanford was 22 for 34 and 304 yards and the four scores.
âWe did pretty good,â Sanford said. âWe executed our running and passing game, but if you get down to a good team itâs hard to come back. We fought back, but adversity hit us. Thatâs a good ballteam over there.â
William House led Ooltewahâs defense with nine tackles while Jake Sullivan, Manning and Kasaud Featherstone each broke up a pass.
Article courtesy of Chattanoogan.com