Pickens goes down as Bears run wild

By Cole Little
Courier Sports

HONEA PATH — The Pickens Blue Flame struggled mightily in a road game against the Belton-Honea Path Bears on Thursday night, falling 45-3 and never developing any type of rhythm on either side of the ball.

The Bears’ rushing attack proved too much for the Blue Flame to handle, as BHP, led by running back O’Ryan Warren, racked up 299 yards on the ground.

10-12 Page 1B.inddComing into the game, the daunting task of facing off against the one-loss Bears on the road stood tall for the Blue Flame, and that task was not made any less challenging when the game was moved up a day due to the threat of Hurricane Matthew. Originally slated for Friday night, the matchup was rescheduled to Thursday because of weather-related reasons, thus shortening the Blue Flame’s preparation for what was arguably their most difficult test of the season so far.

Pickens actually came out of the gate strong, though, holding its own against the high-powered BHP offense in the first quarter. Trailing only 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, the Blue Flame defense soon wore down, allowing 17 points to the Bears in the second quarter.

The defense was offered little support from the offense, as the Blue Flame amassed a measly 143 total yards, as opposed to BHP’s 476 total yards, and were unable to manufacture a passing attack. Pickens quarterback Jared Pace, playing in place of injured starter Tanner Stegall, completed only four passes for 25 yards on the night.

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Tommy McGaha/
Pickens’ Kyle Day breaks through the line of scrimmage during the Blue Flame’s loss at Belton-Honea Path on Friday night.

On the flip side, BHP quarterback Kameron Burton was solid for the Bears, marching his team down the field on several impressive scoring drives. Burton finished 13-of-19 for 137 yards and one touchdown. The game’s superstars, however, were the Bears’ running backs, Breeland Sampson and Warren.

Accumulating 209 yards and four rushing touchdowns between the two of them, the Bears’ two-headed rushing attack dominated the Blue Flame defense from start to finish. Leading 24-3 at halftime, the Bears increased their already commanding lead in the third quarter, scoring 21 unanswered points that allowed them to coast through the fourth quarter.

10-12 Page 1B.inddTurnovers played a minimal role in the game, with each team suffering only one, both of which were fumbles.

The Bears’ defense was nearly impermeable, and, combined with the practically unstoppable BHP offense, the Blue Flame struggled to find anything positive on Thursday evening.

Pickens kicker Dylan Baynard produced the only points for the Blue Flame by making a 38-yard field goal with just less than three minutes remaining in the second quarter.

Out of the backfield for Pickens, running back Brandon Batson gained 58 yards on 10 carries, including a game-high 35-yard rush.

Converting only one of 10 third downs, the Blue Flame were held in check by the swarming BHP defense through all four quarters and, as a result, fell to 1-6 overall and 0-2 in Region I-4A play.

The Bears, on the other hand, improved to 6-1 on the season and 4-0 at home with the victory in their region opener.

10-12 Page 1B.inddPickens will return home this Friday night to take on the 3-4 Wren Hurricanes.

Tommy McGaha/
Pickens’ Stone Prince upends Belton-Honea Path’s O’Ryan Warren during their game Friday night.

With its final three games set to take place at Blue Flame Stadium, Pickens hopes to right the ship and finish the regular season on a high note. A trip to the playoffs is still within reach as well.