Valley Preps

Uncharacteristic mistakes doom Harris County in blowout loss to Bainbridge

There were warning signs that a performance like Friday night’s was bound to happen for Harris County.

The Tigers struggled to contain Carver running back Khiari McCoy in their season-opener and were torched by a winless Northside team a mere few weeks ago. In that win over Northside, the Tigers gave up nearly 600 yards of offense and surrendered 305 yards and three passing scores to quarterback Chandler Blanton.

But nothing could have prepared the Tigers for the onslaught that a much better Bainbridge team brought to Tiger Stadium.

Davion Mahone threw a 62-yard touchdown strike on Harris County’s opening drive. Solid enough, right?

Bainbridge blocked the Tigers’ next two punts and returned one for a touchdown. The Bearcats scored touchdowns of 66 yards, 70 yards (a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown) and notched two scores of 29 yards, all in the first half. Mahome threw a pick-six.

Harris County’s student section erupted into a frenzy when the Tigers finally got a punt away without it being blocked. That’s how bad it got.

The Bearcats ultimately won 68-13 after a running-clock second half.

“Bainbridge played well, but we were our own worst enemy after that first touchdown,” Tigers coach Jamie Fox said. “Misaligning on defense, special teams killed us the first two times we punted, and then add a couple of turnovers and that’s a recipe for disaster when you play good teams.”

This is a Harris County team that beat soon-to-be Region 1-AAAA champion Carver in its season opener, took Troup down to the wire with its backup quarterback and hadn’t given up more than 42 points all year. The Tigers gave up 56 points in the first half to Bainbridge.

The mistakes that doomed the Tigers were uncharacteristic ones. Mahone tried to force passes that weren’t there. The Tigers fumbled kickoffs, and struggled to block on punts. Mahone rarely had time to set his feet and throw, because the Bearcats’ pass rush was in the backfield seconds after he took the snap. When he did have time, the snap was often low and threw off the timing of the entire play.

The Tigers should still make the Class 5A playoffs, though any hopes of moving up in the region standings are shot. Bainbridge moved ahead of the Tigers into the No. 3 spot, but Harris County already has a win over Thomas County Central. Bainbridge and Thomas County Central meet next week, while the Tigers are on a bye week.

“We wake up Saturday morning, (the game) is over, there’s nothing we can do,” Fox said. “We’ve got a bye week next week, and we’ll try to get healthy, we’ll try to obviously make some corrections and hopefully find out who we play in the playoffs. We’ve still got a playoff game, so not everything is lost.”

Related stories from Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Joshua Mixon is a reporter for the Ledger-Enquirer. He covers sports (Auburn and preps) and local news, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America. He previously covered Georgia athletics for the Telegraph. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshDMixon.