The best season in school history came to an end for Pierce County Friday night as the Bears were beaten 30-6 by Cedar Grove in the Class 3A state semifinals at William Buck Godfrey Stadium in Decatur.
Still, it was a season to remember for the Bears (13-1) who made the semifinals for the first time this season.Their 13 wins are the most in program history, their perfect regular-season was the second for the team and they claimed another region championship to earn a top seed for the state playoffs.
Cedar Grove, who was making its fourth straight appearance in the semifinals, is now 13-1 on the year and will play Peach County for the Class 3A state title at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Dec. 11.
Friday’s game started in the worst possible way for the Bears who found themselves in a 16-0 hole just minutes into the contest.
The Saints scored on their first offensive play following a Pierce punt when Robert Jones sped 78 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead following the extra-point kick.
The Bears self-destructed the next time they had the ball when a punt snap went over punter Parker Peagler’s head and also through the end zone for a safety and thus a 9-0 lead for Cedar Grove.
Moments later, the Saints pushed the score to 16-0 when Pierce kicked off following the safety and saw Rashad Jordan go 52 yards down the middle of the field for a touchdown.
The Bears would settle down and pull within 16-6 with 8:23 left in the second quarter on a 1-yard run by sophomore quarterback Jermaine Brewton to cap a 6-play, 45-yard drive by the Pierce offense.
Pierce tried for a two-point conversion, but Brewton was stopped just shy of the goal line on a rushing attempt.
Cedar Grove put another touchdown on the scoreboard before intermission on a 20-yard pass from Kendall Boney to Jordan that finished out a 9-play, 78-yard march by the home squad and gave it a 23-6 advantage at the break.
The Saints showcased Jones after halftime and the senior running back ran for 185 of his game-best 255 yards while scoring on an 87-yard run with 7:41 left in the game to round out the scoring for the night.
Before the end of the game, Pierce senior standout running back Dee Bethea was leveled by Cedar Grove’s highly-touted prospect Jadon Haselwood on a pass play over the middle that resulted in a late-hit infraction against the state’s top prospect as a receiver.
Bethea tried to get up after the hit but immediately fell back on the turf. He walked off the field on his own after getting looked at by the team trainer, but according to a post-game report, the Pierce star collapsed on the sideline after the game and had to be carried to a local hospital by ambulance for further evaluation.
Cedar Grove finished with 411 total yards to just 180 by the Bears.
Pierce senior running back John Jones, the Region 2 Player of the Year, finished with 64 yards on 25 carries.