COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- The Bradley Central High School football team can only wonder what might have been had they been at full strength Friday in its Class 6A first-round playoff matchup against Cookeville.
After hitting two long touchdown passes in the first quarter, the Bears got hit hard with injuries to starting quarterback Bryce Copeland and running back Logan Fetzner.
Copeland hurt his non-throwing forearm late in the first quarter and didn't return, while Fetzner suffered a leg injury early in the second and didn't come back until the fourth.
And once the No. 3-seeded Cavaliers got their punishing power running and passing attack going, they pulled away for a big lead and held on for a 34-28 victory at Eddie Watson Stadium.
Backup quarterback Daniel Clark ran for a 2-yard touchdown for the game's final score for the No. 6-seeded Bears with 5:21 left in the game, then the defense got a three-and-out to get the ball back at the BCHS 44 with 3:20 left.
The Bears advanced to the CHS 29 with 1:29 to set up a 4th-and-9 play. After a timeout, Clark's pass was broken up by Cameron Germenis, effectively ending the game as the Cavaliers kneeled three times to run the clock out.
The Cavaliers finished with 416 yards of offense, with 263 on the ground led by Alex Sklavenitis' 18 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown. Ross Davidson added 18 carries for 86 yards and two scores, and Nathan Holland had eight rushes for 60 yards.
John David Edgington finished 8-of-14 passing for 153 yards and a touchdown.
Clark played admirably, completing 13 of 26 passes for 121 yards with two interceptions while also running for two touchdowns.
The Bears (7-4) scored on their first play, a quick pass from Copeland to Fetzner that turned into an 80-yard touchdown. And on the second play of their third drive, Copeland found Justin Houston over the middle, and Houston did the rest for a 73-yard score that made it 14-7.
But the Cavaliers (7-4) took advantage of a Copeland interception for their first score, as Davidson capped a four-play, 40-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run. Early in the second quarter, Copeland appeared to injure himself while planting on his right arm on a quarterback keeper. Just a few minutes later in the second quarter, Fetzner was shaken up, though he did return to finish with 38 yards rushing and 80 receiving.
Davidson ran for another short score early in the second quarter to tie the score at 14. Cookeville added two more touchdowns in the frame, as quarterback Edgington ran in from 1 yard out and passed to Ryan Eberle for a 41-yard strike for a 28-14 halftime advantage.
Alex Skalvenitis added a 6-yard scoring run in the third quarter for Cookeville's biggest lead at 34-14, part of a dominating third-quarter performance by the Cavs.
Clark scrambled his way to a 20-yard touchdown with 8:21 remaining in the game to cut the deficit to 34-21, setting the stage for the nail-biting finish.
Houston caught five passes for 114 yards and ran for 28. The Cavs limited receiver James Stovall to two catches for 13 yards.