Bears edge out Bulldogs to improve to 1-1
Both Byron football team and Plainview-Elgin-Millville (P-E-M) came into last Friday’s game with some extra motivation to win, but only one team could prevail.
In the end, the Bears eked out a 27-26 victory by scoring a 70-yard touchdown in the final minutes of the game.
P-E-M was hoping to win for their teammate Aiden Miller who died suddenly of heart failure in late July. He would have been a junior lineman this season.
Meanwhile, the Bears had a much less somber motivation to win as they were hoping to continue their homecoming festivities with a victory.
Byron had two big defensive plays in the first half, an interception and a fumble recovery by Sam Connelly.
Following a back-and-forth first half, Head Coach Ben Halder said his team didn’t make any big changes at halftime.
“Not much, just needed to execute better and we did,” he mentioned. “Our team came out more focused in the second half.”
Even though the Bears trailed 18-6 at one point in the third quarter, he credits his team with persevering through adversity.
“Our players never lost hope and continued to play to the end which is what was the difference for us,” he said.
A kick-off return for a touchdown brought the Bears within six points, 18-12.
Later, a 45-yard touchdown run by Austin Freerksen gave them a 19-18 lead.
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs responded with a touchdown and a two-point conversion to re-take the lead.
With Byron now trailing 26-19, the Bears got converted a critical fourth down by getting a 30-yard run by Freerksen.
Then, after penalties pushed Byron back to their own 30-yard line, the Bears faced third down and needed 25 yards to keep the drive alive.
Byron got that 25 yards and then some when they completed a 70-yard touchdown pass. The Bears then converted a two-point conversion to claim a 27-26 lead.
Despite the win, Halder noted both the defense and offense need to play better in the future.
“Defense played okay at times, but needs to be more physical and tackle better. Offense was not very good all night and made a few plays at the end to get the W,” he said.
He believes this game will serve as a lesson for his team that they can earn a win each and every week.
“We need to come out focused and know that any given Friday night you could win, no matter who we play,” he said.
The Bears will travel to Faribault to take on the Falcons on Friday, Sept. 13.