Decatur can't escape No. l Bethel


Associate editor

If the Decatur football team could have made even one of its point-after touchdown tries, or if its second-quarter field goal attempt hadn’t been blocked, then its drive into Bethel territory in the final minute of the game might have meant something.

Instead, the Gators were only playing for pride in a 27-18 loss against the top-ranked Braves.

“We didn’t lose to Rogers or Emerald Ridge, we lost to the No. 1 team in the state,” Decatur coach Rik Haines said. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of. We played hard right to the end.”

Decatur junior quarterback Darin Harris carried 21 times for 106 yards and a rushing touchdown. He was 11-14 passing for 109 yards and two touchdowns.

“He’s good because he’s a winner,” Haines said. “He runs and throws the ball real well. He’s a great worker and shows great leadership.”

After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter, the Gators scraped back in the second.

Harris dropped back to pass, then saw a gap in the line and scrambled 39 yards for a touchdown with 3:37 left in the half.

On Bethel’s next possession, Decatur’s Charles Cooks hit Bethel quarterback Johnny DuRocher to cause a fumble, which the Gators recovered. After Harris gained 34-yards on a run, he found Nate Marotta in the end zone on a 12-yard pass. The two-point conversion failed, but the Gators went into halftime to a standing ovation, trailing just 14-12.

Defensively for the Gators, Gavin Johnson had a sack, Joe Isaac recovered a fumble and Tracy Ford had a tackle for a 6-yard loss on a screen pass just before halftime.

Bethel came out in the second half and scored on an 89-yard drive capped by a 1-yard DuRocher sneak. The Braves went up 27-12 early in the fourth quarter on DuRocher’s 6-yard pass to David Lewis.

DuRocher was 11-20 passing for 122 yards. Bethel’s Zach Fletcher rushed for 221 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown.

Again, the Decatur offense responded. Senior Tamarria Landers returned the ensuing kickoff 33 yards, with a 15-yard penalty tacked on at the end. After getting knocked out of the game for a play, Harris came back to convert on fourth down, then threw a 10-yard fade pass to Justin Smith, who out-jumped his defender for the touchdown catch. The two-point conversion failed. In the game, Smith caught five passes for 58 yards.

Bethel recovered the onside kick, but the Decatur defense held to give the Gators one more shot.

Harris’ pass to Smith down to the Bethel 20 was called back because of a holding penalty, then Harris was intercepted at the goal line as time expired.

“I’m happy because when we fell behind 14-0 we didn’t cash it in,” Haines said. “Most Decatur teams in the past would have (quit). Even after falling behind 27-12 we came right back. If we could make extra points and didn’t get field goals blocked it would have been an interesting game at the end.”

Decatur hosts Kentlake at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26 at Federal Way Memorial Stadium.

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