Two long second-half pass plays set up Weaver’s only scores as the Bearcats defeated Cleburne County 13-7.
“I think what’s impressive in this particular game is the fact that we made so many mistakes,” Weaver coach Daryl Hamby said. “Coaching, players, we all made mistakes, but what’s different from three years ago is that we overcame those mistakes.
“People came up and made big hits, big tackles — didn’t ever put their heads down, never quit.”
Both offenses sputtered early on, but the Tigers eventually found success early in the second quarter on the legs of Trey Bolton.
Bolton carried the ball six times for 55 yards on an 11-play drive that led to Cleburne County’s only points of the contest. He capped the drive with a hard 7-yard run up the gut, putting the Tigers up 7-0 with 9:10 to go in the second quarter.
Bolton finished the game with 22 carries for 107 yards.
English went down with an ankle injury on Weaver’s next drive and sat out the remainder of the first half.
He was back on the field to start the third quarter and set up the Bearcats with good field position after a nice return.
Weaver went to the air immediately. Quarterback Timothy Hawkins hooked up with Drake Ledet for a 43-yard gain before finding Michael Homesley in the corner of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown. The strike tied the game at 7 with 10:48 to go in the third quarter after a Fernando Forbes extra point.
Cleburne County threatened on its next drive, moving the ball all the way down to the 22-yard line before Chris Troge intercepted a third-down pass from Brady Padgett.
Weaver’s next big pass play came two drives later, and English was used as a decoy.
Hawkins handed the ball to English, who quickly gave it back to his quarterback. Hawkins threw the ball deep and Homesley came up with it, sprinting all the way down to the 4-yard line on a 69-yard reception.
“Chris (English) is such a tough competitor. He wants to go on one leg,” Hamby said. “He makes our offense just so much better being out there. He does a lot of great things and of course everybody is keying on him.”
After a 3-yard run by Hawkins, English capped the drive with a 1-yard run, putting the Bearcats up 13-7 with 8:19 after a failed extra-point attempt.
“They really committed to stopping Chris on the run on the outside. We were trying to get to the edge, and they weren’t going to give it up,” Hamby said. “Timothy has a pretty good arm, and we have some good receivers who really stepped up and made some big plays for us.”
Cleburne County had two more chances to try to put points on the board, but Forbes made sure they came away with nothing.
On a fourth and 7 from midfield, Padgett’s pass went through his intended receiver's hands, and Forbes was there to grab it, giving Weaver a chance to run out the clock.
The Bearcats picked up two first downs before penalties set them back, forcing a punt.
After two incomplete passes, Padgett found Jeremiah McLeroy for a 33-yard gain to get the Tigers in striking distance.
Two plays later, Christian Henson appeared to be open near the goal line. Padgett found his man, but a jarring blow from Forbes knocked the ball loose around the 2-yard line for an incomplete pass.
“Fernando is a phenomenal athlete. I love Fernando to death,” Hamby said. “What is so special about this bunch is that people don’t know how close they are. They don’t want to let their teammates down, and that’s very important. We are very close-knit.
“The kids never quit. They love to compete and they love to play. Fernando is just one of those kids who did exactly what I said — was going to have to step up — and he did a great job.
Brandell Massey came up with a huge sack on the next play to force fourth down. With nobody open, Padgett took off to pick up eight yards, but that wasn’t nearly enough for a first down.
Hawkins took a knee and ran the clock out. He finished 5 for 13 with 145 yards passing and a touchdown.