A steady rain greeted the Bayside High Bears at Tom McIntyre Stadium on Friday night, but that wasn’t mud they were knee deep in.
It was adversity.
Frustrated by two first-half fumbles — including one at the 1-yard line — and another on the second half kickoff that set up a Melbourne touchdown, the Bears rallied for a 21-7 victory in a Class 6A, District 13 matchup.
Roger Bush scored on a pair of touchdown runs to help the Bears ( 2-3, 2-0) rally past the Bulldogs. Bush’s second touchdown run came with 5:27 to play and was followed 15 seconds later by a 33-yard interception return for a touchdown by Bayside’s D.J. Johnson, a wide receiver who was seeing his first significant snaps on defense this season.
Bayside’s defense played a strong game, particularly up front where the Bears made it tough for the Melbourne running game to get going.
However, the undermanned Bulldogs — who had just 27 players Friday night — certainly gave the Bears all they could handle before finally wearing down in the second half.
KEY PLAYERS: Bush ran 17 times for 67 yards and scored on runs of 6 and 3 yards. Quarterback Lucious McKay ran 13 times for 76 yards and after missing on his first pass, completed 13 in a row. He was 13-for-14 for 89 yards. Darion Andre had six catches for 39 yards and also played some solid run defense from his cornerback position. Defensive linemen Dominic Mack, Tomell One and Trey Valentine all had standout games.
For Melbourne, Cooper Christiano scored the Bulldogs touchdown on a 2-yard run on fourth-and-goal. He also recovered the fumbled second-half kickoff. Quarterback Parker Kempfer had a solid game, while Sterling Munich was also a standout, particularly on defense. Linebacker Kody Boswell also had an excellent night.
THEY SAID IT: “You’re not going to win any kind of championships, or anything in the playoffs, if you don’t understand adversity. Every team you play in the playoffs has somehow won with adversity. That’s how they get there. Along with our schedule that we’ve played up to this point and winning a game like this with adversity, all it does is kind of callous you up, toughen you up for when you’ve got to play the real (big games) in the playoffs.”
“The tight end, before the play he was looking down the middle of the field and so I was, ‘All right, they’re going to try to do a little dump pass.’ When I saw it, I jumped it and took it back,” Bayside’s D.J. Johnson, who returned his second interception of the game for a 33-yard touchdown
WHAT’S NEXT: Bayside hosts Seabreeze, while Melbourne is at Viera.
RECORDS: Bayside 2-3, (2-0, Class 6A, District 13), Melbourne 3-3 (0-3, Class 6A, District 13).