Love, Jackson lead Bitburg into D-II semifinals
BITBURG, Germany – An unrelenting Bitburg Barons attack withstood a worthy challenge from Naples on Saturday, advancing to the DODDS-Europe Division II football semifinals with a 50-26 home-field victory.
The four-time defending champion Barons galloped off to their usual fast start as Kenny Love and Larry Jackson ran for first-quarter touchdowns. But the Wildcats, the South region’s fourth seed and the only team with a losing record to reach the postseason, swiped back at Bitburg with a 67-yard touchdown pass from TyRick Riggins to Jayontray Grogan.
Undeterred, Bitburg continued to pound the ground behind its formidable offensive line. Love scored from 61 and 21 yards out in the second quarter to push the game well out of reach.
That didn’t stop the Wildcats from trying to claw back into the game after halftime. Grogan struck again with a 39-yard run in the third, and Naples racked up 13 fourth-quarter points on an 81-yard kickoff return by Juwan English and a 58-yard run from Cameron Copeland.
But the Baron offense never slowed enough for Naples to catch up. Love finished with 265 yards and four touchdowns on 26 carries, while Jackson carried 40 times for 224 yards and three scores.
Love also led the Bitburg defense with five solo tackles and an assist. Devin Billups made three tackles for loss on the game.
Zane Zimmerman topped the Naples defense with 12 solo tackles.
The game was a rematch of the 2012 Division II title game, in which Naples appeared headed for an upset win before Bitburg pulled off a remarkable fourth-quarter comeback in a 22-20 victory. The Wildcats lost many of the key players from that runner-up team.
The Barons’ march, meanwhile, continues unabated. They’ll host Hohenfels next Saturday with a return berth in the European championship game on the line.