The Spring Hill Bears returned to the gridiron with a purpose and rallied back big from a 27-12 halftime deficit, to defeat the Lafayette County Cougars 36-35 in 7-2A Conference play for week 5 of high school football Friday night at Bear Stadium.

The Spring Hill Bears returned to the gridiron with a purpose and rallied back big from a 27-12 halftime deficit, to defeat the Lafayette County Cougars 36-35 in 7-2A Conference play for week 5 of high school football Friday night at Bear Stadium. The Bears' victory now puts them into the win column in conference now 1-1 and 2-3 overall.

The Bears were led by a dynamic offensive display from running back Keymonte Rhodes who soared into the end zone four times for a season-high four touchdowns scored that helped Spring Hill prevail against a fast and athletic Cougar squad.

Spring Hill head football coach Matt McBride was proud how hard his Bears overcame adversity from trailing 21-0 and 27-12 at halftime to pull out the victory. McBride also was pleased how well the Bears made plays in their execution and RB Rhodes for recording one of his best performances running the ball that was key to being victorious.

"It was a pretty wild game. They jumped out on us pretty quick and led 27-12 halftime. I'm proud of how hard we fought back and made big plays offensively. The kids played really hard defensively and thought Keymonte ran the ball really well. The kids just made a commitment," McBride said.

Lafayette County had the early momentum going in the first half with Cougars' Andreus Dedner putting his team on the board first on a 3-yard run with PAT good to lead Spring Hill 7-0 at the 4:13 mark. Then, the Cougars added to their lead off a 40-yard touchdown run on the quarterback keeper from Martavious Miller at the 2:48 mark gave Lafayette County a 14-0 advantage. The Bears took possession, but the Cougars Dedner got a key interception at the 1:55 mark off Spring Hill's turnover that allowed Lafayette County back possession to end first period play going into the second quarter. At the end of the first, Lafayette County led Spring Hill 7-0.

In the second, Miller soared into the end zone on the QB keeper for a 9-yard TD with PAT good and Lafayette County led Spring Hill 21-0 at the 11:51 mark.

The Bears would be forced to punt after falling short to convert on downs offensively, but Spring Hill's defense now came into effect. Drake Kidd got an interception at the 9:15 mark and took it into Cougar territory. Bears' quarterback Payton Massanelli picked up two key first downs on QB keepers to the Cougars 43-yard line. Cam Middleton picked up some yardage, then Rhodes took it from there and scored on a 25-yard touchdown run at the 7:41 mark to put the Bears on the board. PAT was no good and Spring Hill trailed Lafayette County 21-6.

The Bears defense continued to make stops and Drake Kidd recovered a fumble for a huge touchdown run for over 56 yards at the 5:48 mark. The 2-point conversion failed, but the Bears trailed Lafayette County 21-12. The Cougars kept their intensity going and the speed from quarterback Miller, which led to another end zone trip off a QB keeper for 15-yards at the 1:05 mark. The PAT was blocked by the Bears and Lafayette County ended first half play with a 15 point lead at halftime, 27-12.

In the second half, the Bears held ground defensively and shutout the Cougars from scoring in the third quarter. The Bears offense sparked by two key touchdown runs from Rhodes 40-yards 11:09 mark and an 80-yard run at the 4:35 mark. Middleton and Massanelli accounted for a 2-point conversion score apiece on the touchdowns that gave the Bears a 28-27 lead.

Another key defensive play by the Bears forced a fumble and recovered by Spring Hill at the 3:38 mark put them on Lafayette County's 16-yard line. The Cougars made stops on the Bears to make them go four and out on downs and turnover possession back to Lafayette County. As the game got intense, penalties haunted the visiting Cougars and Lafayette County head coach Bobby Clark got ejected from the game at the 1:06 mark, which shifted the momentum to the Bears to end third quarter action with Spring Hill leading L.C., 28-27.

In the fourth, Middleton reached for Spring Hill's second interception of the game at the 11:48 mark that gave back possession to the Bears, but later forced to punt. Another fumble on the punt from L.C. and recovered by the Bears allowed them to regain back possession at the 8:08 mark, but the Cougars' defense stopped a scoring drive for Spring Hill. With 4:44 left to play, the Cougars had the offensive drive, but Middleton came up big again for his second INT at the 3:46 mark and brought the Bears to the Cougars 10-yard line. This set up a impressive end zone score with Rhodes leaping over the Cougars defense for his fourth touchdown at the 1:37 mark from 2-yards. QB Massanelli scored the 2-point conversion and the Bears led Lafayette County 36-27.

With under a minute, the Cougars continued to race down field to score. Jaylyn Anderson punched in a 3-yard TD for Lafayette County with 15 seconds remaining and scored the 2-point conversion to cut Spring Hill's lead down to one point, 36-35. The Cougars went for the onside kick, but the Bears recovered, then took a knee in victory formation to run the clock out and finish victorious for their second win of the season and at home.

Bears' Rhodes led the ground attack with 267 yards rushing on 22 carries and scored four TD's. quarterback Massanelli was 3-for12 passing for eight yards with two INT's and had 10 carries for 45 yards rushing and scored twice on 2-point conversions. Middleton had six carries for 40 yards rushing and scored one 2-point conversion. Slade Cox and Lewis Chambers each rushed once for two yards apiece. Cox suffered an injury early part of the game didn't return for the second half. On receiving, Middleton had two receptions for eight yards and Rhodes had one reception.

Defensively, the Bears racked up 51 total tackles. Dustin Beck led the charge with 13 tackles in double-digits. Drake Kidd had seven tackles, one fumble recovery for a touchdown and an interception. Marshall Glover, Garret Pauley and Rhodes each had six tackles apiece. Middleton had four tackles and two interceptions with one pick-six for a touchdown and Chambers had three tackles.

Next week, the Bears return home for conference play hosting the defending Class 2A state champions Mt. Ida Lions, who are unbeaten thus far this season. Kickoff set for 7 p.m., at Bear Stadium.