CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Bryce Copeland is very happy with his current name. But for the next week, he might have to change it to "Will," since he will find a way to win.
He certainly willed the Bears to victory Friday.
Copeland finished with 162 yards rushing and another 125 passing, threw a touchdown pass, ran for another and recovered an onside kick for the Bears, who remained in the District 5-AAA title hunt with a 16-14 victory over rival Cleveland at Bear Stadium. The Bears forced three turnovers and held on after gaining a nine-point lead early in the third quarter.
"This is what I want. This is what you play for," said the senior Copeland, who finishes his career 3-1 against Cleveland. "Our goal is to win district. We've never done that since I've been here. We had a chance last year against McMinn, and they came down here and took it to us."
Bradley (6-3, 4-1) will travel to Athens to face the Cherokees (8-1, 5-0) next Friday.
The Blue Raiders took a 7-0 lead on a 21-yard touchdown run by C.J. Bryant, but Bradley answered in the second quarter with a 24-yard completion from Copeland to Dee Crisp. Cleveland moved the ball in the first half, finishing with 204 yards of total offense, but in five trips inside the Bradley 25-yard line came away with only seven points.
The Raiders also were flagged 17 times for 139 yards. Bradley had six penalties for 57.
"We didn't play our best," Cleveland coach Ron Crawford said. "We had too many penalties and too many mistakes to win against a good team. It's a credit to Bradley; they had fewer mistakes and we lost by two."
Clayton Steels gave the Bears the lead in the second half on a field goal, and on the next possession, Copeland got free for a 75-yard touchdown run.
Cleveland's Austin Herink connected with D.J. Jones on a 14-yard touchdown pass with 1:11 to go, but on the ensuing onside kick the ball slipped right through a Cleveland player's hands and Copeland covered it up.
Herink finished with 247 yards passing but was intercepted twice, including one by Warren Crisp to end the game. Crisp also had a fumble recovery that set up the go-ahead field goal in the third quarter.
"We've positioned ourselves for the district championship, but that's not what's important tonight," Bradley coach Damon Floyd said. "This was Bradley-Cleveland, and we're fortunate to come out with the win.
"Bryce has been making plays for four years and you can't say enough about him, but the defense bowed their backs and the kids just played."
Bradley's Cal Pickel had seven catches for 79 yards in the first half. Bryant had 126 yards on the ground for the Raiders (5-4, 3-2) but only 26 in the second half on six carries.