What started off slow and sloppy for the Battle Creek Central Bearcats, ended slow and sloppy for the team Friday night in conference action at Battle Creek Central High School.
Battle Creek Central suffered two key turnovers as it came up short in its bid to knock off St. Joseph.
St. Joseph held off Battle Creek Central, 27-21, in this Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference non-division football contest on Friday.
“Defense played well tonight,” St. Joseph head coach Gandalf Church said. “The defense came through. They are the strength of our team. This is a good football team we played. That’s a good win. … This gets us back in the winning track.”
With the loss, BCC dips to below .500 at 2-3, while St. Joseph’s win makes the Bears 4-1.
Early on, BCC went three-and-out in its first possession, which allowed St. Joseph’s speedy 5-foot-7, 145-pound punt returner Derek Atkins to capitalize with a 65-yard return touchdown with 9:58 left in the first quarter.
But BCC would respond with a five-minute drive of its own. This drive, too, would result into points, as running back Cyntell Williams took a four-yard give into the end zone for the equalizer at 7-7 fair with 4:30 left in the first.
On a fourth-and-8 try, St. Joseph receiver Jordan Brewer corralled in a 37-yard touchdown strike from Griffin Beaudette to give the Bears back the lead at 14-7.
But Michigan State University commit and BCC standout linebacker Brandon Randle had enough of St. Joseph’s scoring. On another third-down try with 6:35 left in the half, Randle sacked Beaudette for a seven-yard loss. A few plays later, BCC would make it a 14-14 game with a 2-yard touchdown run by running back Carlos Parks.
In the second half, Sean Akins booted a 40-yard field goal to make it a three-point lead, 17-14, for St. Joseph. BCC countered off a turnover with 3:57 left in the third when Williams took a reverse-counter 21 yards for a touchdown and BCC’s first lead of the game, 21-17.
A fumble by BCC gave St. Joseph favorable field position, which allowed them to score on a two-yard dive to go up 24-21.
Trailing by six after another Atkins 35-yard field goal, BCC had 10 minutes to capture a come-from-behind victory. However, the Bearcats fell short in the game’s final minute.
“St. Joseph is a really good team,” BCC head coach Lorin Granger said. “They beat us off the line of scrimmage. I’m happy we were in this position to win it, but we had a few turnovers. It’s hard to win a game when you lose the turnover battle. From here, we have to win to get into the playoffs.”
For BCC, Williams had 14 rushes for 117 yards and two scores.