Bamberg rallies to edge Naples
October 2, 2010
BAMBERG, Germany — The Bamberg Barons overcame a 21-point halftime deficit against the Naples Wildcats to remain unbeaten in Division II-South with a 26-21 win Saturday in their homecoming game.
The victory came in the game’s final minute in dramatic fashion.
Bamberg, trailing 21-19, began its final drive with 3 minutes, 27 seconds remaining. Senior Javonte Knuckles, the Barons’ go-to guy, carried the ball eight times, including once when he scooted out of bounds after a big gain to preserve time on the clock. On his last run he carried to Naples’ 10, but was injured.
On the next play, junior Tyler Lewis was given the ball and appeared to be stopped by several Wildcats, but managed to stay on his feet and reach the end zone for the game-winning score.
“I didn’t care what happened I was going for that touchdown. I just kept kicking,” Lewis said after his game-winner.
“I thought two or three times he was going down,” Bamberg coach Jim Davis said of Lewis’s run. Sometimes we talk about it being mental — he wanted it and he got it.”
The first and second halves were two different games for Naples, according to coach Dirk Lambertson.
“Bamberg came out fired up in the second half and took it to us,” he said. “We couldn’t do anything offensively, their defensive beat up our [offensive] line.”
After Naples recovered a Bamberg fumble on the Barons’ first possession of the game, senior Kyle Smigleski rushed up the sideline for a 50-yard TD run. He then scored in the second quarter on a 10-yard run and Naples added a TD pass from quarterback Joseph Pitts to Adrian Devezin for a 21-0 lead.
Davis fired his team up at halftime after a poor start. “I told them that they were a better team than this and that they had to go out there and prove it.”
On Bamberg’s first drive of the second half, Knuckles broke a 63-yard TD run on fourth-and-3 play that seemed to turn the game around.
Bamberg’s Dante Gibson scored on a 36-yard touchdown pass and Knuckles scored again in the fourth quarter on another long run.
“I just wanted to win,” said Knuckles, who carried 20 times for 305 yards. “I was just trying to put our team in a position to win. We all have faith and we all never give up.”
Bamberg’s defense also stepped up in the second half and did not allow a Naples first down the entire half.
Smigleski finished the game with 110 yards on 18 carries and the two touchdowns to lead Naples (2-1).
Davis said if his team is to remain successful, it needs to find a way to come out stronger at the start. It has two away games remaining, including one at undefeated Ansbach on the final weekend of the regular season.
“The teams we have left ... we have to play four quarters of football. You can’t just play the second half,” he said.