For the Summerville Bears, a win last Friday was crucial to turning around their football season.
It was the same for the Bret Harte Bullfrogs.
However, only one team walked away victorious.
Summerville, capitalizing on a few Bret Harte miscues, outlasted its Mother Lode League rival 49-3 at Thorsted Field.
"We actually did some things on offense," said Bullfrogs head coach Jon Byrnes. "We're moving the ball. We have to eliminate a couple key mistakes that happen in opportune times. We got experienced coaches from around saying that our kids are playing hard, and that's true. Our kids are playing hard, and for that, I'm proud of them. They don't give up."
Senior running back Brendan Brick put the Bears (2-5, 1-1 MLL) up 14-0 early in the first quarter with touchdown runs of 3 and 57 yards.
But the Bullfrogs (1-6, 0-2 MLL) did not go away easily.
Utilizing an effective ground-and-pound rushing attack, Bret Harte marched into Summerville territory on the very next drive. The Bullfrogs gained 37 rushing yards and quarterback Jacob Bailey connected with tight end Dustin Lawson for a big 17-yard completion.
Then the Summerville defense, a unit that has struggled to keep teams out of the end zone, stepped up. The Bears swarmed Bullfrog fullback Logan Lowe for no gain and dropped Eric Diep for a loss of 2. On third down, Lowe was stopped short of the first down with a 1-yard gain. After three straight runs, Bailey's pass sailed incomplete to turn the ball over on downs.
"Bret Harte came out and gave us a go for a bit," said Bears head coach Ben Watson. "We played with better energy and execution. ... Our defense, I think stepped it up a little bit too. They run the ball pretty good. They were able to get their fair share of first downs. They are a hardworking team."
Bear junior quarterback Bryce Farrell, who had not thrown a TD pass in the last 11 quarters, finally hit pay dirt on the ensuing possession. Farrell linked up with wide receiver Richard Bennett on a perfectly executed pump fake for a 49-yard TD, the longest completion of his career.
And things just kept going Summerville's way.
After the Bullfrogs picked up two first downs on runs of 22 and 15 yards by Lowe and Bailey, the ball bounced in the right direction for the Bears. On the third play of the drive, a high snap ended up in the hands of safety Jake Fulkerson, who returned it 20 yards for a score. It was Summerville's first defensive TD this season.
Fulkerson did further damage after a Bullfrogs punt. The standout sophomore triggered a 43-yard run when he reversed field to the left after bursting through the hole in the middle, and was tripped up at the 2-yard line. Fulkerson punched it in from there to give the Bears a 35-0 lead at the half.
The Bullfrogs opened the third quarter with an onside kick, but could not recover.
Fulkerson, again, made the Bullfrogs pay. He ran into a wall of blockers and defenders, and looked to be stopped, but he bounced and slipped through tackles for a 49-yard TD scamper.
After Farrell's extra point, the Bears nursed a 42-0 lead.
Bret Harte drove past midfield to the Summerville 37 after Fulkerson's TD, but could not muster a score to turn the ball over downs.
Humphrey Quirie, a Bear junior slot back, took a jet sweep and raced for a 27-yard run for Summerville's final TD with1:56remaining in the third quarter.
"The heart finally came out tonight for the whole game," Bear co-captain Daniel Kristofic said. "We started out strong. This game we took every chance we could and executed on both sides. We got everybody in, which is always a great feeling."
Kicker Jack Gilbert converted a 26-yard field goal for the Bullfrogs to deny a Bears shutout late in the fourth.
"The defense did great," Bear defender Anthony Ortega said. "We were flying to the ball. We were making plays, getting to where we are supposed to be. Everyone did a good job."
Summerville rushed for 264 yards and Bret Harte gained 176.
"If we play our hardest then no one can say anything about us," Byrnes said. "We're trying our best and right now, that's all we could do. We know we can play with anybody. We know we can do better."