With only one win between the teams before heading into the game Friday night, the winner would guarantee a playoff spot as Gold-Burg hosted Forestburg on senior night.
It was a back and forth, one-score game for most of the night until the Longhorns got a clutch stop in the fourth quarter to pull away, winning 39-27.
The two teams played earlier in September with no district ramifications. Forestburg won that game 75-26 and was hoping Friday night’s game would come just as easy despite knowing the stakes would be higher and the Bears that more motivated.
Gold-Burg kicked-off and was able to recover the onside kick. Lacking the size to run straight at the Longhorns, the Bears opted for some quick passes and outside runs that were not effective or missed their mark on the first drive.
Forestburg forced a turnover on downs and drove down the field easily, scoring on a short pass from Braxton Osteen to Tony Smith to go up 7-0.
Gold-Burg then took possession and let Will Hodges loose to do his scrambling magic. He bought time and hit Kolton Whitaker for a big gain down to the Longhorns’ goal line. Hodges eventually connected with Whitaker again on a short pass for the touchdown, tying the score at 7-7.
The Bears’ defense then stepped up, forcing a turnover on downs at midfield as Forestburg’s offense struggled to connect on passes. The Longhorns defense then stepped up as James Stokes intercepted a pass deep in his own territory to stop another promising Gold-Burg possession.
The Bear’s defense again came up big, limiting a Forestburg offense that was all out of sorts, forcing another turnover on downs to start the second quarter.
Gold-Burg’s offense again drove the ball down the field little by little with the mad scrambling of Hodges as no Longhorns rusher could consistently corral him by themselves. Hodges finished the drive with a short touchdown run, making the score 13-7.
After several frustraiting drives, Forestburg’s offense got some big plays going as big Zach Bradley rumbled his way for a 24-yard touchdown run. The successful conversion put the Longhorns ahead again 14-13.
Wanting to score before heading into halftime, but not wanting to leave too much time, Gold-Burg’s offense kind of meandered around midfield. Forestburg was starting to send multiple guys at Hodges while shadowing his check down targets.
With a little more than a minute left and facing fourth and long, Hodges bought time and found Kani Grace open down the field, who took it in for the touchdown to complete a 44-yard touchdown. The failed conversion put the Bears up 19-14.
With Gold-Burg receiving the ball to start the second half, Forestburg needed a response and fast. Opting to kick the ball a bit deeper, the Longhorn’s Levi Balthrop still returned the ball past midfield.
Bradley then went deep to Stokes for a 33-yard touchdown pass with 36 seconds left to take the lead 21-19 into halftime.
The Bears recovered the second half kick-off. Gold-Burg scraped for every yard it got on the drive as several times Forestburg’s defense looked like it might get a stop just before the Bears would pull off a first down.
In the red zone and facing fourth down, Hodges found Grace again for a touchdown. Gold-Burg converted on the kick to take a 27-21 lead.
The Longhorns came right back and scored quickly as Bradley capped off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run. They missed the conversion as the score was tied 27-27 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Bears were driving down the field again hoping to retake the lead. Inside its own 20-yard line, Forestburg forced and recovered a fumble. The Longhorns moved the ball down and Bradley scored from 12 yards out to give Forestburg a 33-27 lead.
Thanks to a couple of killer penalties, Gold-Burg’s offense moved down the field again and got ball inside the five-yard line on first and goal. The Longhorn’s defense held up during the goal line stand and forced a turnover on downs with a little more than six minutes to go in the game.
After gaining some yards things almost went bad for Forestburg. An errant snap to Bradley almost forced the team back another 15 yards that would have made a first down tough. Bradley recovered and threw an incomplete pass, but saved the team from losing all of those yards.
Unfortunately for the Longhorns, Bradley broke his glasses on the play.
With no backup pair, it looked like Bradley might have to play with his vision impaired. Instead he came to the sideline, taped up his glasses with tape provided by the trainer and missed only one play.
Operating out of a power running set, Forestburg gave Bradley the ball as a running back to run time off the clock. A couple of carries later he broke a run for a 45-yard touchdown to put the Longhorns up 39-27 with 2:47 left to play.
The Bears offense was out of the magic it had for most of the game as their next drive ended with a turnover on downs near midfield. Forestburg kneeled the ball to end the game.
To read the full story, pick up a copy of the mid-week edition of the Bowie News.