Bitburg spots Ansbach lead, but streak continues
Stars and Stripes
BITBURG, Germany --- The Bitburg Barons rode the six-touchdown performance of senior CJ Evans to topple the Ansbach Cougars, 50-36, in the opening game of the season for both squads Saturday.
The three-time defending European Division-II champion Barons upped their winning streak to 23 games in an atmosphere at Bitburg more typical of playoff football than an early season matchup. Not surprising, considering the two squads battled in the 2009 and 2011 D-II title games. Both games were won by the Barons, including last season’s 39-18 taming of the Cougars.
After Ansbach opened up a 22-0 lead, Bitburg exploded for 30 unanswered points to take its first lead. The Barons, after being held to just eight first-half points, were able to tack on 42 in the final 24 minutes to distance themselves from the scrappy Cougars.
“Twenty-two-0, we could’ve put our head down right there, but we didn’t,” Evans said to his teammates after the game. Evans, who had five rushing scores and one kickoff return for a touchdown, carried the ball 32 times for 279 yards. His work on the other side of the ball wasn’t so shabby, either, with six tackles and a crucial fumble recovery.
Evans was quick to thank his offensive line, which dominated the line of scrimmage during the second half.
Bitburg followers even got a little bit of a surprise here and there as the team went to an air game on several drives, something uncommon for the traditionally run-dominant team. Senior Evan Less completed four of six passes and racked up 57 yards. Less also had five tackles and an interception on defense.
Senior All-European linebacker Bryson Randall led the Barons on defense with nine tackles, three for losses. Freshman Curtiss Wilson also pitched in with five tackles and a fumble recovery.
“Our heart definitely came into factor here,” Randall said. “It’s not about individuals anymore, it’s about family…we came together.”
The Cougars were visibly impacted by second-quarter injuries to starters on both offense and defense, something Ansbach coach Marcus George said is typical of early season woes where depth, technique and execution still need to be hashed out.
Even after Bitburg took its first lead, the Cougars weren’t ready to roll over. Trailing 44-36 with under 5 minutes left to play, an offensive pass interference call negated a 20-yard Ansbach pass that would have been a touchdown. Ansbach eventually turned the ball over on downs and never was able to get back in front.
There were plenty of bright spots for the Cougars, though, led by senior running back DeMar Flake, who scored two touchdowns on the ground and rushed the ball 19 times for 229 yards. Flake also notched a TD with an 80-yard kickoff return. Flake picked up many of his hard-fought yards after contact.
“I’m not going to be taken down by one man, never,” Flake said.
Senior quarterback Jake Voorhees finished 7 for 15 with 152 yards and threw 2 TDs and was picked off once. Seniors Damien Quichocho and Jose Fuentes each brought in a pass to the end zone.
Quichocho said he hopes the Cougars will earn a rematch in the playoffs, especially for his last year.
“This is our year, we can’t go out with a loss,” Quichocho said.