Brawl at the Berry Center: Bridgeland takes home area championship after defeating Dekaney 47-41 in quadruple overtime

Saying Thursday night’s game at Cy-Fair FCU Stadium was a dogfight would be a huge understatement. As what may go down in history as one of the most intense football games Texas playoffs has ever seen, it took every ounce of grit and fight out of the Bridgeland football team to pull out a victory and claim their spot in round three of UIL Playoffs.

The game began optimistically for the Bears as quarterback Conner Weigman chipped away at the Wildcat defense and located Hunter Wallis in the endzone for a Bear touchdown. On the other side of the ball, the Bear defense capitalized on Dekaney’s slow start and early frustration of Lamar University commit and starting quarterback Daelyn Williams. As the blue-and orange defense got their job done with the help of offensive mistakes from the Wildcats, Weigman put the ball on the rope to wide receiver Dylan Goffney into the endzone; making the score after completing the first quarter 14-0.

Daelyn Williams began to settle in when the second quarter began. He was able to put some points on the board after pinpointing key passes then giving the ball to Kevon Garcia for him to go around the left end into the endzone for a WIldcat touchdown.

Following the Wildcat touchdown, the Bears were forced to take a punt which was fumbled by Gavan Kaspar, giving Dekaney a huge opportunity to score again at the two-yard line. After the blue-and-orange defense put up a good fight, Dekaney was still able to score by kicking a field goal, setting the new score to 14-10 Bridgeland.

Jonathan Nelson then set his offense up for success by running the kick return to the Wildcat 42-yard line. Weigman then took over the helm to put another touchdown on the board with the assistance of a solid drive and reception from running back Christian Phillips.

Dekaney answered the call of Bridgeland’s two point lead with a Williams long rocket touchdown pass to wide receiver Jonah Wilson for the final play of the half and a big gain of momentum for the Wildcats. At halftime, the score was 21-17 Bridgeland.

The first half of the third quarter was lifeless for both teams’ offense. The scoring spell was loudly broken with a monster pass and run from Williams to Wilson for a Wildcat touchdown to steal Bridgeland’s lead and make the new score 21-24.

Weigman then manufactured a well-needed touchdown after nickel-and-diming on offense and finally pinpointing Goffney in the endzone.

With a score of 28-24 Bridgeland going into the fourth quarter, Williams began to look to let the ball fly a bit more. Even after a key throw breakup by Bear safety Connor Gower, the Wildcats added seven more points to their scoring, regaining the lead.

Coach Raffield, the head coach of the Bears, said that even though they have rarely been behind teams this year, that they are mentally prepared for anything.

“We practice one day at a time, we practice one play at a time. The kids have done a tremendous job of staying focused. At all times, they believe they can win,” Raffield said.

The Bears did just that as the blue-and-orange offense managed to tie the game. After a 28-yard completion to Mason Culton, a beautiful throw from Weigman to Goffney, and an important pass to Hunter Wallis, Ethan Hajdik was set up for success to kick a field goal and produce a new score of 31-31.

The last six minutes of the regulation game were what could be considered circus-like. With a huge illegal formation call, bad snaps, a pass interception, and a fumble recovery; both teams were unable to put points on the board, sending the game into overtime.

UIL playoff rules declare that both teams get a possession at the 25-yard line. After Mason Culton bullied his way into gaining yardage and a complete pass to Atrevion Hunter, Weigman took the ball himself into the endzone for a crucial touchdown. Dekaney was also given a chance to score due to playoff regulation, and did just that after Williams scored on the keeper as well.

As the Wildcats went for a field goal attempt in double overtime, it was blocked by the Bear defense. Although key to taking pressure off the blue-and-orange offense, the penalty on the play pushed them back to the 40-yard line to start. With the first play on Bear offense, Weigman’s pass intended for Goffney was intercepted, sending the game into triple overtime.

The Bears sent out Ethan Hajdik to get the job done for their offense, and he delivered with a field goal forcing the Wildcats to score. After an imperative pass from WIlliams to the one-yard line, the Bear defense threw up a wall to protect their endzone. Through sheer willpower, the defense was able to hold down the fort to force a fourth down. Dekaney then kicked a field goal to send their team into a fourth overtime with Bridgeland.

The Wildcats successfully went for another field goal on their possession, impelling the Bears to put points on the board. In movie-screen fashion, the earth stood still as Weigman threw it on a line to Dylan Goffney for Goffney to run it into the endzone for a game-winning touchdown.

Although credited with a victory, star-quarterback Conner Weigman didn’t have his best performance. Coach Raffield said, however, that no matter how well he is playing that day, Weigman thrives in high-pressure situations.

“The more pressure that is on the game, the more relaxed he becomes. So, he was struggling early, but answered when it mattered,” Raffield said.

A game this close and to this level of intensity is unfamiliar to the Bear team this season. However, Raffield thinks that this may be the exact wake-up call his team needs going into the next round of playoffs.

“I think it’s [the game] a great thing to show how important the playoffs really are and that you need to play hard every single play. That’s a lesson that they’ll keep with them for the rest of their life,” Raffield said.

The Bridgeland Bears will take on Rockwall Heath on Saturday, December 26th at McLane Stadium at 1 PM. While being excited for moving on to the next round, the team is also excited for something else- giving their seniors another chance to play.

“I’m so excited for these seniors. We’ve heard their battle cry all week, and they answered the call tonight,” Raffield said. “It was a tough game, it was a fun game. It’ll be a memory for the rest of their life.”