CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Trailing 21-14 to bitter rival Cleveland on Friday, Bradley Central unleashed a stunning 96-yard touchdown drive to score and pull within one point with 1:53 left in the game.
Then, the Bears forgot to do one important thing.
They didn’t block Cleveland’s linebacker Jonathan Terrero and that mistake will haunt the Bears for weeks to come.
Terrero, a 5-foot-8-inch 205-pound senior, blocked the extra-point attempt by Clayton Steels and the Blue Raiders ran out the clock for a heart-stopping, 21-20, victory at Benny Monroe Stadium.
Cleveland now leads the heated rivalry, 26-13, and snapped a two-game losing streak to the Bears.
With the win Cleveland (5-3, 3-1) stayed in a second-place tie with East Hamilton (6-1, 3-1) in the District 5-AAA standings behind front-running Ooltewah (7-1, 4-0).
The Owls knocked off Walker Valley, 42-14, and East Hamilton defeated McMinn County, 24-12.
Ooltewah, which has already beaten East Hamilton and Bradley Central in two-point decisions, plays at Cleveland on Oct. 25.
Earlier in the fourth quarter Cleveland forced a Bradley Central punt and took over on its own 33. The Blue Raiders were in the shadow of Bradley’s goal-line, but fumbled the ball away at the 4 with 2:37 left in the game.
Bears quarterback Brett Standifer missed on three straight passes, setting up a third-and-10. Standifer, who completed 25-of-38 passes for 313 yards, found Daniel Clark open for a gain to the Bears’ 46.
Bradley (4-3, 1-2) capped the desperation drive with a lateral to senior wide receiver Dee Crisp, who pulled up and fired a pass to senior Cal Pickel for a 54-yard touchdown at the 1:53 mark of the final quarter.
Jubilation turned to despair a few moments later when Terrero broke through Bradley’s kick coverage unit to block the potential game-tying extra point try.
While Cleveland’s heralded quarterback Austin Herink completed 7-of-9 passes for just 86 yards, the Blue Raiders’ ground game churned out 332 yards while the defense held Bradley’s ground troops to a mere 21 yards.
Bradley Central opened the game’s scoring with a 65-yard, 12-play drive on its first possession. A 9-yard Standifer-to-Pickel gave the Bears the lead with 6:20 left in the first quarter.
A Bradley punt backed Cleveland up at its own 6 late in the period, but the drive ended when the Bears’ Warren Crisp intercepted Herink at the Blue Raiders’ 47. Five minutes, 41 seconds remained on the clock.
Bradley’s Logan Fetzner scored on a 1-yard run to cap a 53-yard, 10-play drive with 47 seconds left in the quarter. Steels’ kick made the score 14-0 going into halftime.
Cleveland’s offense decided to find the end zone in the third quarter.
The Blue Raiders drove 71 yards and Herink scored on a 5-yard run at the 8:02 mark and Zach Lee’s point-after cut Bradley’s lead in half.
After a Bradley punt, the Blue Raiders went back to work at their 29. C.J. Parker scored on a 28-yard run and suddenly the game was tied at 14-all.
Cleveland’s defense forced another Bradley punt and set up shop at its 29 again.
Herink’s 48-yard pass to Tyler Davis put the Blue Raiders ahead for the first time at 21-14 as the third quarter wound down.
Cleveland intercepted Standifer to stop the Bears’ ensuing drive.
Later, the Blue Raiders fumbled at the Bradley 4 to set up the nail-biting final seconds.