The Sealy Tigers playoff hopes seemed to be getting brighter as they went into halftime against Bay City up 37-21. However, the Tigers couldn’t hold off the Black Cats as they rallied to score 32 points in the second half to pull out the win 53-44.
The Tigers didn’t struggle offensively at all in the first half but could muster only a touchdown in the fourth quarter to keep the game close.
Sealy started the game off well with a field goal on the opening drive and a 29-yard touchdown pass from Garret Zaskoda to running back Ivan Bolden to go up 10-0. Junior Matt Lord intercepted Bay City’s quarterback Dylan Davidson on the next possession to give the Tigers the ball again on their own 39-yard line.
The Tigers drove down the field ending with a 10-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Jared Kainer to make it 17-0 with just over four minutes left in the first quarter.
After a pair of penalties helped put Bay City into Sealy territory, the Black Cats drove down to the 3-yard line and would run it in on the next play to score their only touchdown of the quarter.
The Tigers would respond with their last touchdown of the quarter on the next drive after Justin Eckhardt took a intermediate route 49 yards to the end zone to put Sealy up 24-6 to close out the first quarter.
Sealy’s next touchdown would come on their first possession of the second quarter when Ivan Bolden ran in a touchdown from just over 20 yards out. The Tigers defense struggles that would become problematic later in the game began to emerge on the next drive.
Bay City’s spread offense force Sealy into deep man and zone coverage leaving the Tigers to depend on three and four-man rushes. This allowed more room for Davidson to scramble out of the pocket successfully for much of the game.
“They went empty all night long and we had to spread out with them and we had trouble containing the quarterback who is an unbelievable athlete,” Head Coach Shane Mobley said. “We had to put some linebackers in man-on-man and that’s just not sound and if we didn’t trap him in he would step out and force us to ditch the zone coverage.”
This allowed for the Black Cats to drive to the Sealy 12-yard line and scored on the next play on a 12-yard touchdown pass. The teams would each exchange a touchdown in the quarter to make it 37-21 at half.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, Bay City came out in the second half knowing they could take advantage of Sealy’s inability to defend against the quarterback run and short routes.
Bay City would score on the first drive of the half to make it 37-27 just a minute into the quarter. Sealy meanwhile would go four-and-out on their first possession of the half and Zaskoda was intercepted on their second possession.
Bay City would take advantage of Sealy’s turnover a few plays later on a 51-yard touchdown pass to make it 37-34 with six minutes left in the third quarter. The Tigers offense stalled again but Sealy forced a missed field goal on a long Bay City drive to close out the third quarter.
After forcing Bay City to punt it on their first possession of the quarter, Bolden would jolt the offense once again with a 32-yard run from Sealy’s 35-yard line. An impressive effort from Tyrek McNeese on a broken reverse play set up the Tigers on the 6-yard line and Zaskoda took it in for a touchdown to put the Tigers up 44-34.
Lord intercepted his second pass of the day on a deep pass attempt by Davidson but Sealy failed to capitalize on it and the Black Cats got the ball back with six minutes remaining in the game.
Davidson continued to utilize his speed and drove the team to Sealy’s 21-yard line mostly on rushing attempts by him. Davidson would hit R.J. Mitchell for a 21-yard touchdown to shrink Sealy’s lead to three at 44-41 with 5:21 left in the game.
“This is a good lesson for the boys to know that once you go up, you can’t get comfortable,” Mobley said. “You have to stay on the other team’s throat and keep it up.”
Bay City would get the ball gain with 3:23 remaining and as was the case for most of the game, several Davidson runs set Bay City up at Sealy’s 27-yard line. Davidson would score on a quarterback keeper to give the Black Cats the first lead of the game at 47-44 with 54 seconds left.
The Tigers had one more chance to score but a miscommunication between Zaskoda and Bolden ended in a Bay City pick-six to effectively end the game with a final score of 53-44.
Zaskoda finished with game with 385 yards through the air and three touchdowns with two interceptions while Bolden was the leading rusher of the team with 150 yards and one touchdown.
Eckhardt and McNeese were the star receivers for the Tigers with Eckhardt finishing the game with seven catches for 149 yards and a touchdown and McNeese finishing with eight catches with just over a hundred yards.
For Bay City, Davidson was the key piece of the Black Cats’ success passing for 337 yards and four touchdowns while also running for 233 yards and a touchdown.
While the loss doesn’t end Sealy’s playoff hopes, it does disadvantage them for the fourth spot in the district. The Tigers will have to win their next game against West Columbia to enter in a potential tiebreaker with the rest of the district. All teams but Stafford are still in the running for the playoffs.
Sealy will take on West Columbia at T.J. Mills Stadium on Friday with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.