BURTON-Beachwood rallied late with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to take a 28-27 win over host Berkshire on Friday.
Jalen Minter connected with Desmond Kirks on a nine-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth for the game-winning score as the Bison finish the regular season 4-0, their first undefeated regular season in school history.
“It feels good at the end of the day,” Beachwood head coach Damion Creel said about the undefeated season. “We can’t think about it now because we have to go into next week, but after we get done and down the line five to ten years from now, we’ll look at it and be like ‘what an accomplishment’ based on the circumstances we dealt with.”
Beachwood looked to have control of the game early until Berkshire quarterback Jacob Brown led the Badgers back from a 14-point deficit. Brown finished with three passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.
A missed extra point in the fourth quarter cost the Badgers a chance to force overtime as they ended the regular season, 4-2.
Beachwood opened the scoring with a four-yard touchdown run by Kendyn Wiggins after converting on fourth-and-5 earlier in the drive.
After trading punts on the ensuing possessions, Berkshire took an up-tempo approach on offense, driving the ball deep into Bison territory, but an interception by Andrew Baker quickly halted the drive.
On the following Bison possession, a 25-yard reception by Kyler Wiggins set up a two-yard touchdown run by Kendyn Wiggins, giving the Bison a 14-0 lead.
“I knew it coming in I think our kids took them a little bit lightly,” Creel said. “When we got up 14, I think we hit the brakes a little bit and thought they were going to lay down. Berkshire’s a well-coached team that plays hard, as you can see.”
Berkshire was able to flip momentum on its next possession as Brown broke free for a 43-yard carry, setting up a six-yard touchdown pass to Jack Kuehn.
The touchdown energized the Badgers on defense as they were able to force a quick three-and-out on the following possession.
Brown finished off another solid drive, this time on the ground, as he slipped past a defender and carried it in for a 10-yard touchdown with a minute left in the half.
The Badgers intercepted Minter’s pass on the next play but ran out of time as the teams went into the break tied at 14.
“I told the kids at halftime that I would find out who they are and what they’re about,” Creel said. “Berkshire came out with a great scheme defensively and offensively, and sometimes we didn’t match their intensity.”
After the teams traded punts to start the second half, the Badger offense found its groove again, making big plays when they needed them most.
Brown found Blake Jenkins for a 37-yard completion on third-and-15, setting up a 15-yard touchdown reception by Jenkins on fourth-and-10 and giving the Badgers their first lead of the night.
Jalen Minter was able to put the Bison in a great position to respond as he took the ensuing kickoff into Badger territory, followed by a 26-yard scramble setting up first-and-goal.
The Badgers were able to force a fourth-and-goal situation, but the Bison caught a break. Minter handed the ball off and the ball carrier fumbled, but Kyler Wiggins was able to fall on top of it in the end zone for the touchdown.
The Badgers continued their solid play on offense as they marched downfield and capped off the drive with a 17-yard touchdown reception by Hunter Gifford. A costly missed extra point left the score 27-21.
Another big return by Minter set up the Bison deep in Badger territory. The Badgers were able to force another fourth-and-goal situation, but the Bison proved to be clutch again.
Minter rolled out right and found Kirks for a 9-yard touchdown giving the Bison a 28-27 lead.
“Everything, everything,” Creel said about what his team needs to clean up going into the playoffs. “We’re behind everybody. Most teams played five or six games, so we just have to make sure we clean up everything.”
The Badgers made a great effort to retake the lead, but an interception by Ben Desatnik ended their comeback hopes as the Bison held on to win.
“We’ve been down a couple times early this year and honestly these guys are my brothers and they never roll over,” Brown said after the loss. “One thing about this team that we’re never going to do is we’re never going to quit. No matter if we’re down by 50 or 7 or 14. We’re just never going to roll over.”
Beachwood earned the seventh seed in the playoffs and will host the 26th seed, Grand Valley, next Saturday. Berkshire earned the 12th seed and will host 18th seed Lutheran East.