Horns Down

Bridgeland defeats the Cedar Hill Longhorns 32-18 at Waco ISD Stadium.


Alex VanderLaan

Bridgeland takes the field in Waco

Bridgelands’ varsity football team defeats the Cedar Hill Longhorns 32-18 to advance to round four of UIL football playoffs.

On Saturday, November 27, Bridgeland took on Cedar Hill in the cold and rainy Waco weather. The game started slow for both teams as they tried to focus on the run game in the wet environment. After eight minutes had ticked off the clock, Bridgeland kicker Fisher Pratt missed a field goal for the Bears. On the following drive for the Longhorns, quarterback Cedric Harden rushed into the endzone for six points. Cedar Hill fumbled on the extra point attempt, leaving their lead at 6-0 with just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter. Bridgeland’s offense responded and drove down the field quickly. Bear quarterback Conner Weigman rushed into the endzone as the first quarter ended to give Bridgeland the lead, but he injured himself on the play. Weigman would not return to the field for the remainder of the game.

Maleski calls for the ball. (Alex VanderLaan)

Quarterback Josh Stephens entered the game for Bridgeland to start the second quarter. The Bear offense settled for a field goal to extend the lead to four points with seven minutes left in the half. Bridgeland’s defense took the field, determined to stop the methodical Longhorn offense. Defensive back Graham Gillespie intercepted the ball with one hand, giving the ball back to Stephens and the offense. Cedar Hill’s turnover was quickly nullified as Stephens fumbled the ball on the next set of downs. The Longhorns capitalized off of the fumble, scoring a rushing touchdown to bring the score to 12-10 in favor of Cedar Hill. The Longhorns fumbled on the extra point attempt, leaving the lead at two heading into halftime.

Following halftime, Bridgeland finally found success in the run game. Noah Allen-Cuellar scored a rushing touchdown just over four minutes after the break. Cedar Hill responded, scoring just 20 seconds after the Bridgeland touchdown, and left the score at 18-16 favoring the Longhorns after a failed two-point conversion. Rain continued to play a huge factor in the game as it kept the field and ball slippery. Cornerback Joshua Ryan said that the Bears had to adjust their defensive game plan around the weather.

“[The rain] made us play more violently and aggressively because we knew we could take away their pass game for sure,” Ryan said. “So, the run game was just one thing we had to take out, and we did a pretty good job of it.”

Josh Stephens attempts a pass over a Cedar Hill defender. (Alex VanderLaan)

Bridgeland’s offense and defense dominated throughout the remainder of the game. Senior Ethan Hence recovered a blocked punt, giving Stephens and the offense great field position. Allen-Cuellar scored again with 18 seconds left in the third quarter to head into the last 12 minutes up 29-18.

Just three minutes into the fourth quarter, Pratt made a field goal and added three points to the Bears’ lead. Two minutes later, Cedar Hill recovered a fumble from Bridgeland and got another chance to score. The Longhorns came up short after turning the ball over on downs. The rest of the game played out slowly. Bridgeland ended up winning 32-18, and they advanced to Round Four of the playoffs. This is the furthest Bridgeland has ever gotten in the UIL state playoffs, and the players are proud of their efforts to get there.

“It’s very overwhelming,” Ryan said. “I can’t even express how I feel because I came from such a long way. I’m just really proud of my teammates and I hope we get to be better now.”

The Bears will take on Tomball on Saturday, December 4, in Round Four of the playoffs. The game starts at 2 p.m. at Tomball ISD Stadium. Ryan says the Bears have work to do, but they’ll be ready for action.

“We’re gonna start by first celebrating on the ride back, and then after that, we’ll go in and watch some film and get ready for next week,” Ryan said. “We’re gonna start Monday early, and get ready to work.”