ATHENS — Thursday night’s Region III-2A Division I area playoff game was a battle of quarterbacks — Beckville’s Ryan Harris and Hearne’s Micah Smith.
Harris did his damage on the ground, while Smith made things happen through the air.
Harris rushed for 236 yards and five touchdowns to outlast Smith’s four touchdowns passing as the Beckville Bearcats survived for a 41-38 win over the Eagles at Bruce Field.
The Bearcats are now 9-3 on the season, while the Eagles finish the season at 9-1.
With the win, Beckville will play the winner of the Carlisle-Normangee game next week in the regional quarterfinals.
Harris became the Beckville all-time single-season leader in touchdowns with 29 and in yards for a season. He scored on runs of 5, 8, 4, 26 and 1 yards.
The 1-yarder ended up being the difference in the ballgame as it put Beckville up 41-32 with 2:51 to play.
Smith, who passed for 380 yards on the night, would help the Eagles get close as he connected with Keyshawn Langham on a 14-yard TD with :03 left on the clock. But that only cut the lead to three and the Eagles try for two was incomplete.
Langham also caught a 37-yard TD pass to keep the Eagles — who had only been behind twice this season — close, but Hearne never led.
Harris’ 26-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter gave the Bearcats a 35-26 lead.
Beckville pounded out the first TD of the game behind the running of Harris and J’Koby Williams.
They took almost six minutes off the clock and used 12 plays, picking up a key first down on a fourth-and-two. Harris went in from the 5 and the Bearcats led 7-0.
The Eagles wasted little time — 49 seconds — getting into the end zone to match the score. Two plays after Jeremy Seymore ripped off 17 yards, quarterback Micah Smith hit a wide-open Jabari Dunn for 38 yards and a touchdown.
The Bearcats held a 7-6 lead as Jeremiah Steph blocked the PAT.
Harris did the damage on the next Beckville possession, bursting through a big hole and outrunning the Eagle defenders for a 49-yard touchdown.
Hearne got another TD before the first quarter was finished with Smith scrambling for a first down on a fourth down, then going in from the 4, three plays later.
The pass for the two-point conversion was incomplete to make it 14-12.
A Beckville fumble gave the Eagles the ball in prime scoring position, but the Bearcat defense held to keep the lead.
They would add another score in the second period with Harris going in from the 8 to make it 21-12. He set up the TD with a 33-yard run.
Jeremiah Gerode got the Eagles going with a 35-yard reception on their next possession, which finished with a 4-yard run by Milton Redmon. Justavian Bendford caught the conversion pass to cut the lead to 21-20 with 5:09 remaining.
Beckville appeared ready to add to the lead right before the half as Matt Barr completed a double-reverse pass to Harris at the 1 on a fourth-down pass. A penalty against the Bearcats wiped out the play and the Eagles stopped the threat.