Bearcats control the Mayhem, 20-12, in semi-pro football opener
It has been a long time coming, but the Grays Harbor Bearcats will take it.
Integrating a new roster with a mixture of young and veteran players, the Bearcats relied upon their running backs to power through a 20-12 exhibition semi-pro football win over the Thurston County Mayhem on Saturday night at Stewart Field.
The win is the first for the Bearcats since 2013, a fact not lost on head coach Todd Hoiness.
“I’m excited, because I’ll take an ugly win over a loss; because, it has been a while,” Hoiness said. “I’m pretty happy, because we are farther along than what I thought. But, we still have a long ways to go. I’m going to take it and run.”
The Bearcats found their rushing game, rumbling for 199 yards and three touchdowns overall. Running backs Vincent McCrory and Cody Miller combined for 175 rushing yards and all three scores.
On the other side of the ball, Grays Harbor’s defense took advantage of a Mayhem team that was also working on getting into playing condition. All told, Thurston County finished with just 108 yards of total offense. The Mayhem scored their two touchdowns on defense and special teams.
McCrory, who led all rushers with 92 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns, opened the scoring early in the second quarter. The Bearcats were given a very short field after a Mayhem punt went just 13 yards, setting up the hosts at the 16-yard line.
Following a penalty, Miller smashed for 19 yards on two rushes, setting up a short inside run for McCrory and the 2-yard scoring run for a 6-0 lead. Miller added 83 yards on nine carries and one score.
Miller got his touchdown to cap the longest scoring drive of the game, a nine-play, 81-yard march. New Grays Harbor quarterback Tyler Gedney highlighted the drive when he tossed a perfect 35-yard pass to Loyal Linton, who split two Thurston County defenders for the catch. Gedney, in his debut, threw for 62 yards on 7-for-16 attempts and two interceptions.
“I was really excited for the running backs, because it has been tough for them not being able to get into live hitting,” Hoiness added. “Vincent came back after one drive and told me his pads were way too high. Until you get hit a few times, you don’t know that. Two or three guys challenged him and he knocked them on the ground. Cody did a nice job. This was their first taste of live hitting and they came through.”
McCrory smashed a 13-yard run to the Mayhem 10-yard line and Miller took it the rest of the way on three carries, including the 1-yard scoring plunge, for a 12-0 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Thurston County got onto the scoreboard. Anthony Chaney took the kickoff and weaved his way 74 yards for the touchdown to cut the score at 12-6 with 4:41 left in the first half. Chaney would take over at quarterback for the Mayhem in the second half after starting quarterback Anthony Borja took a big hit at the stroke of halftime and never returned.
On Cheney’s first throw at quarterback in the second half, first-year player Jordan Harrington picked off the floating pass for the Bearcats. Harrington finished with two interceptions on the night, including a snag in traffic in the fourth quarter.
McCrory made it 18-6 midway through the third quarter on a four-play, 49-yard drive, all on the ground. An 11-yard inside run by Miller was followed by a 20-yard sprint through the middle by McCrory. Christopher Cook, in his first game back with the Bearcats after missing the 2014 season due to injury, ran 14 yards to the Mayhem 6-yard line. From there, McCrory powered in for the score.
From there, the Bearcats defense took over to keep the Mayhem from mounting a comeback. Following an interception of Gedney for a 19-yard touchdown return by Ravonte Johnson-Brown, the Mayhem never got out of their end of the field.
A pack of Bearcats forced the Mayhem’s Shawn Williams back into the end zone for a safety and a 20-12 score with 1:40 left in the contest. Thurston County got the ball back in the final minute, but two straight sacks on Chaney from veteran linebacker Joel Brown ended the game.
“I’m actually really excited (about this team),” Hoiness said. “We had young guys make a lot of plays and the veterans came through as well. I told them all that we were going to make some bad plays, because we haven’t gone (live hitting) a lot. I wanted to see who would go make some plays. If you go out and make more plays than you give up, you’ll win. We’ve gone live for just five minutes before this game, so I’m pretty happy with what I saw tonight.”
Hoiness cited Harrington for his plays at cornerback, along with Filipo Cournoyer and
On Saturday, Grays Harbor will finish its exhibition schedule by hosting the Renton Ravens. On Saturday, April 18, the Bearcats open Pacific Football League play at home against the Portland Pitbulls.
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