Beulah’s late struggles cost them at home

Published 12:38 am Saturday, October 21, 2023

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By Wayne Clark

BEULAH — With a chance to make the 3A playoffs on the line, Beulah played an inspired game against the Randolph County Tigers and had a 29-28 fourth-quarter lead but couldn’t hold it in the end. The visitors put up three fourth-quarter scores, two of them on turnovers, to leave with a 50-29 win.

“Our guys played hard tonight, and I am really proud of their effort,” said head coach Matt Johnson. “Randolph County is a really good team, a physical team, and we played with them until the very end. Turnovers really hurt us.”

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Johnson was especially proud of the game played by quarterback Wes Grant. “He started the year as a third-string quarterback but has worked his way up,” he said. “His leadership and his passing kept us in the game for most of the way. Bronson DuBose led the way on defense for us. He had 12 tackles.”

The Bobcats still have a good chance for post-season play. “We are in if we win next week at Weaver,” Johnson said. 

The Tigers took a 6-0 lead on their opening drive, going 70 yards mostly on runs between the tackles. Winston scored on a 19-yard run to give Randolph County the early lead. Beulah answered that score with a drive of their own. The passing of Wes Grant to Ethyn Prestridge, L.J. Fitzpatrick and M.J. Walton moved the ball steadily down the field A 14-yard pass from Grant to Prestridge got the Bobcats on the scoreboard. A successful point-after by Reed Maloof put Beulah in the lead, 7-6, with 8:18 left in the first period.

Randolph County went back ahead midway through the second period on a 50-yard drive. A long punt return by Winston gave the Tigers good field position, and the Randolph County offense took it in from there. Their do-everything player, Winston, scored on a three-yard run with 6:14 left before halftime to give his team the lead. Winston rounded the left end for the two-point conversion to put the lead at 14-7.

The Tigers built on that lead following an interception near midfield. A pass from Lewis to Winston got it down to the Beulah 14. Randolph County scored on a four-yard run to go up 20-7. The point-after was missed, and with 4:13 left before halftime, the visitors had a two-touchdown lead. 

It didn’t take Beulah long to cut into that. On the first play following the kickoff, R.J. Shealey ran through a big hole in the left side of the line, made a great move to make one defender miss a tackle and ran 64 yards for a touchdown. Maloof’s extra point made it 20-14 with 4:13 left in the half.

The Bobcats had a great chance to take the lead when Randolph County fumbled the kickoff and Beulah recovered on the Tiger 16. A holding penalty set them back, but Maloof came through with a field goal to narrow the Tiger lead to 20-17 with 18 seconds left in the half.

Randolph County took a 28-17 lead in the third quarter on another big play from Winston. On a third-and-eight play, he broke off the right side of the line and raced to the north end zone to score from 35 yards out. They added two more points on the conversion.

The Bobcats got a tough break on their next possession when an apparent touchdown on a fake punt was negated by a penalty. They were then forced to punt and got the ball right back on a fumble. This time they would take it in to narrow the score to 28-23. On a third-and-nine play, Grant hooked up with wideout M.J. Walton on a thing of beauty from 50 yards out. A try for two points failed, leaving the score at 28-23 with 1:23 left in the third quarter.

The Beulah defense forced a punt on the next Randolph County possession. A good return by Prestridge had the Bobcats in great shape with a first and ten on the Tiger 30. They would drive it in from there to take a 29-28 lead on a 15-yard run by Shealey with 6:20 left in the game.

To their credit, Randolph County responded to that by going 80 yards on their next possession and adding the conversion to go up 36-29. with 3:18 left. They would add two more scores after Beulah turnovers to pad that lead.