And just like that the countdown is two weeks old and Booneville is a perfect 14-0. But then I warned you, fair or not, there would be no losses considered among the greatest games at the stadium, so a more accurate description may be the 50 greatest wins.
Nonetheless, thank you to everyone who tunes in each day for our countdown of what a committee thinks are the 50 greatest games — so far — to have been played in Bearcat Stadium, because on Sept. 1, the stadium will open its gates for its 50th season.
For number 37 we have a 1993, 14-7 win over Greenwood.
Why was this game chosen? Every year for about a decade Greenwood was supposed to win. Every year they didn't, regardless of whether the game was in South Logan or South Sebastian. At least until the year after this game when the teams last met because Greenwood had grown to more than double Booneville in school population.
What do I remember? I think of this game often. Not because it was the last win over the Highway 10 neighbor, but because of Chad Mitchell hounding Bulldog quarterback Travis McDaniel all night. But then Mitchell was a good guy to try to try to avoid. I also spoke to a journalism class about sports coverage the next week.
What does Chad Mitchell remember? I think that was my favorite game that I played in my career at the stadium. It may have been my favorite game period. It was actually the only game my grandparents, who lived in Florida, were ever able to attend.
There was a lot of hype behind the game. I think we were both ranked third in the state, AA and AAA. We had beaten them I think 11 or 12 straight years. It looked like both cities had packed into the stadium. The hill down to the track was just covered with people.
There had been a towel sent to Coach Rip that said the Bearcat Crying Towel. It had supposedly been sent by Greenwood. In all actuality, it was sent by someone on the team's parent, name being withheld to protect his identity. I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. I was mad. I actually wore it during the game.
It looked like it was going to be a barn burner. We both scored quick. Then, we put a touchdown on the board. We were up, and from then on, it was all defense. Uncharacteristically, we had some turnover issues, and they blocked a punt. It seemed like we spent the majority of the second half on our side of the field.
Of all the things I remember, the strangest is probably the band. On the field, you never hear anything outside of what is on the field. However, that night at one point between plays, I remember hearing both bands playing Rock 'n' Roll Part 2. They were battling it out just like the two teams. The crowd was into it. You just knew it was a special game.
Again, they had the ball on our side of the field one last time. And, it was fourth down. I lined up on the outside. On the snap of the ball, their offensive tackle made a mistake, and he left the QB wide open on his blind side.
I got to him about the time he was releasing the ball, and that was it. The first thing I did was look up at the crowd, and they were going nuts. We downed it, and the crowd rushed the field. I remember my dad grabbing me up. It was just a great game.
That game was everything that is special about Bearcat football. The unbelievable fans, the band and cheerleaders pushing you on. The team feeding off that energy to push them to victory. I've had people ask me why time and again the Bearcats are successful. It's all of that. Very few are fortunate enough to be able to live that.
What happened? What he said.
After a Jake Shackleford interception of McDaniel on the first Greenwood drive, the Bearcats kept the ball for 17 plays to go in front. Cory Barnes carried four of the last five downs and scored from the 2. Brandon Herrera hit the upright with the point after try but it went through anyway for a 7-0 lead with 51 seconds left in the first quarter.
Greenwood answered in five plays on a 39-yard McDaniel to Jody Henson pass and a PAT by Zack Wells made it 7-7 with 10:48 left in the half.
Starting from their 35 after a kickoff out of bounds — Herrera tended to cause those — it took eight plays for the Bearcats to go back in front 14-7 on a 22-yard Shackleford run.
Offensive shootout was the thought since there was still 8:21 to go in the half.
Shackleford and Eric Hale had a fourth down stop of McDaniel to kill a second half drive and Mitchell, as I said, was in his pocket too. The miscues Mitchell addressed gave Greenwood ample opportunity but Mitchell induced McDaniel to drop off a fourth down pass after the punt block on a play that turned into an 8-yard loss on a tackle by Shackleford.
Mitchell had 14 tackles including a pair of sacks and what Mitchell didn't say when he hit McDaniel as he released the ball to end the game was it didn't even reach the line of scrimmage.
Tomorrow the holder saves the day at 36.