Briarwood Academy quarterback Branson Beggs throws a quick pass into the flats against Gatewood last Friday night.

Briarwood Academy’s Buccaneers last Friday in Eatonton gave up an early two touchdowns to Gatewood. Despite fighting back all night, the Bucs could never close the gap and lost 28-13.

“The kids played hard, we didn’t give up. Going forward, to beat good teams we can’t turn the ball over and you’ve got to win the special teams and we lost both of those on Friday,” said Briarwood Academy Head Coach Bo Fleming. “The one thing we can take from Friday is we can play with those guys and if we see them in the playoffs we’ll be ready to go.”

Gatewood took a 7-0 lead after a four-play scoring drive in the opening minute of the first quarter. Then, Briarwood’s offense had it’s opening possession cut short when a Gatewood defensive back picked off a second-down pass and returned the interception 62 yards for a touchdown. By the 9:41 mark, the Gators had a 14-0 lead. Later on, near the end of the first quarter, the Briarwood offense stalled and chose to punt.

Gatewood’s return man raced down the home side of the field for a touchdown. The point-after try failed, but Gatewood had established a 20-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. The second quarter saw momentum swing the Bucs’ direction. Briarwood picked up one first down, then couldn’t find a second one — so again they punted. The punt bounced, hit a Gatewood player’s, leg and was recovered by Briarwood’s Cameron Perkins.

The Bucs had their best starting position of the night with first down from the Gatewood 32. Seven plays into the drive quarterback Branson Beggs hit Crawford Thigpen for a 24-yard touchdown. Tucker Lord supplied the point-after kick. Early in the second quarter, Briarwood had cut Gatewood’s lead to 20-7. The Gators were ready to strike back but Briarwood’s Charlie Mosley picked off a third-down passing attempt to stop the advance.

Later, with about a minute remaining in the half, the Buc’s ran a middle screen to junior Gavin Taylor, who went the distance 38 yards up the middle to the end zone. A bobbled snap on the extra point meant the Bucs walked away with just 6 points. The Gators led 20-13 at halftime. Late in the third quarter, Gatewood provided the only second-half scoring. A quarterback keeper for a touchdown followed by a 2-point pass completion rounded out the score to 28-13. Later drives by Briarwood ended on interceptions, one in the third quarter and one in the fourth.

Against Gatewood, the Bucs had to rely on their passing game and only tallied 53 rushing yards for the night compared to 209 yards through the air. Beggs completed 17 or 31 for 208 yards and two touchdowns. However, he also threw four interceptions. Dax Reese completed a single pass for 1 yard. The Bucs spread the passing game around and four receivers had more than 40 yards each.

Wilkes Walker had 51 yards from two catches. Lord had seven receptions for 43 yards. Reese had 29 receiving yards, Thigpen had 40, and Lord ended the night with 43. Taylor had two receptions for 46 yards. Reese led in rushing yards with 54 and Mosley had 2.

“Defense played well Friday. They kept us in the game and really played hard and made it tough on Gatewood’s offense,” said Fleming.

Bonner Reynolds led the defense with 11 tackles, 6 solo. Mason Poss, Keller McCord, Josh Addyman, and Gunner Stewart each had 6 total tackles. The 5-2 Bucs this Friday will host Westfield School, from Perry, in a non-region game. Westfield, a GISA AAA school, is 4-1.

“Westfield may be the best team we play all year,” Fleming said.

He explained they will have about 53 players, are big up front, and a very physical team.

“They’re a spread offense and they’re going to throw it all over the place. On defense we’ve got to make tackles and on offense we have to keep it away from them,” added Fleming. “We’re excited because we’re back at home.”

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