After a come-from-behind victory against state champion Webb in Knoxville last Thursday, the Black-and-Gold had some struggles on both sides of the ball when Notre Dame paid a visit to Bear Stadium Tuesday night.
“We didn’t look very good,” assessed head coach Damon Floyd after the second set of Irish outscored his squad 24-7 in a trio of 20-minute, running-clock periods.
“I was very disappointed in our run game and we had too many penalties,” he added. “We have got to be more disciplined and do a better job of reading our keys.”
Bradley did claim a 14-0 win in the lone junior varsity period.
Playing in real game simulation, except for no returns on kickoffs and punts, the only points put on the scoreboard in the first half dozen possessions came through a 25-yard field goal by the visitors.
The Bear defense forced a three-and-out in the opening series and then stopped the second Irish drive at midfield when junior Brett Brown pulled in a fumble recovery.
Notre Dame’s offense finally got the ball moving in its third possession. It marched inside the Bear 10-yard line, but a nice play by junior Zach Peak to knock away a pass to Louisville commitment Kareem Orr in the end zone forced the visitors to settle for the three-point kick.
After the Irish defense forced its third straight three-and-out, the Chattanooga squad marched 70 yards in eight plays before Orr was able to snag a ball deflected off a Bear defender for a 33-yard score.
Bradley’s offense got something going just before the end of the second period when sophomore quarterback Cole Copeland connected with senior wide receiver Tanner Cox for a 60-yard touchdown pass. Cox had to fend off an Irish defender who was flagged for interference on the play, to break away for the final 30-yard dash to paydirt.
Giving the first-teamers a chance to catch their breath, the JV squads took over in the third period with the Bears getting scores from freshman Devon Moore and junior Jamie Billups on runs of 5 and 6 yards respectively.
When the varsity action took the field for the final 20 minutes, Bradley’s offensive struggles returned when the Bears lost a fumble to stall the first series and then a bad snap on a fourth-and-2 play ended the second drive.
Notre Dame, which advanced to the TSSAA Class 3A state quarterfinals last season, scored on both of its final period possessions.
The Bear defense had some highlights in spots, including five tackles for loss, plus it knocked down several passes.
“We’ve got to be more consistent defensively,” Coach Floyd declared. “We got some things we’ve got to fix, and only a week to do it. We’ll keep working and try to fix these things.”
Bradley will travel to Chattanooga Friday to participate in the annual Best of Preps Jamboree at Finley Stadium. The Bears will take on Howard at 8 p.m., while Cleveland High will tangle with Baylor at 9. Walker Valley will take on Hixson Saturday at 8.