Bishop England loses tough regular season finale
It will be a game that will cause anguish and be analyzed way into the off-season.
But for now, the Bishop England High School football team must shake off a 27-24 loss to Manning in a game that decided the Region 7-AAA championship. They must focus on Friday night’s first-round playoff game against Lake City.
“Lake City is very athletic,” BE coach John Cantey said. “Aynor won their region with a 9-0 record and Dillon was second (at 8-1) so that region is really stacked. Lake City is a challenge to begin the first round. They have speed and we will be challenged because we are a little banged up right now.”
The Bishops played well against Manning, but couldn’t capitalize on a key possession in the fourth quarter as the Bishops finished the regular season with a 6-3 record, including 4-1 in league play.
“I’m really proud of the kids,” Cantey said after the regular-season finale at Jack Cantey Stadium. “I felt terrible for the kids. They really persevered and fought back. They also fought to the end. You can’t ask for more than that.”
Manning, 7-3 overall and 5-0 in the region, might have been more athletic, but the Bishops seemed to have more heart. The game was decided in a 6-minute, 17-second span in the second quarter when the Monarchs outscored the Bishops 21-0 to take a 21-3 lead at halftime.
Manning still led 27-10 at the end of the third quarter and survived the Bishops’ furious finish.
Bishop England quarterback Cam Costa completed 22 of 37 passes for the game for 257 yards and three touchdowns. He saved his best for last, and directed two drives in the final quarter that produced touchdowns. He completed a 20-yard TD pass to running back Michael Long that capped a 7-play, 74-yard drive and cut the deficit to 27-17 with 11:35 remaining.
The Bishops followed the score by scooping up an onside kick, their third onside kicks recovery in as many games. Five plays later, the Bishops were in the end zone when Costa found Sullivan Clair open for a 9-yard TD pass with 10:31 left in the game, bringing the score to 27-24.
It could have been deja-vu for the Bishops as they attempted — and recovered — another on-side kick. They drove it inside the Monarchs’ 10-yard line, but a fumble killed the drive and wiped out the Bishops’ chances.
Manning, which controlled the game early with a power running game, spent most of final minutes running effectively against a banged-up Bishop team.
Manning’s Caleb Wright carried 33 times for 190 yards and a touchdown. Wright tag-teamed with Aaron Smith, who carried 27 times for 206 yards and a TD. Manning tallied 454 yards in total offense with 430 coming on the ground.
Clair led the Bishops with seven catches for 88 yards, while Long finished with 121 all-purpose yards, including 87 on the ground.