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Thomas Wilkerson, No. 26, comes up with the ball after a Memorial Day fumble.

Briarwood Academy’s winning streak came to an end last Friday after the Bucs lost 28-27 to Memorial Day. Briarwood is now 7-1.

“As bad as it was Friday night as far as execution, as far as penalties and everything, we still had a chance to win at the end. I made the call and we just didn’t get it,” said Bo Fleming, Briarwood Academy head football coach. “But through the eight games, I’ll take a 7-1 start.”

The Bucs led for the majority of the game, but the Matadors pulled into the lead in the early fourth quarter. Briarwood scored again late to move within a point of Memorial Day. However, a two-point play for the win failed and left Briarwood down by one.

“The defense made a stop when we needed it. The offense went in and scored and we went for the win. We didn’t get the two point play, but we went down fighting,” the coach said.

The Bucs opened strong when Chapman Mohr started the evening with a  74-yard kick return.

“It was a great return. The guys did a great job blocking and he hit it hard,” said Fleming.

 Two plays later Lucas Freitas scored from 9 yards out and Trenton Cotton added the extra point, his first of three successful kicks for the night.

Briarwood, in a little slower fashion, scored again on their second possession. After holding Memorial Day to a punt, the Bucs began a 10-play scoring drive from their 30 yard line. The rushing game plugged away advancing the ball slowly, then quarterback Dax Reese connected to Jacob Petrie on a nearly 40-yard pass completion. Three plays later Freitas carried on a  32-yard touchdown run.

After Cotton’s second kick, the Bucs held a 14-0 lead with 1:56 remaining in the first quarter.

But, the Matadors answered with an 11-play scoring drive which was capped by a 30-yard touchdown run. They punched the ball in for a two-point conversion.

Freitas again found the end zone on Briarwood’s next possession and the Bucs led 21-8 with 2:31 until halftime.

But Briarwood’s kick coverage faltered when a short kick was returned up the middle for a touchdown.

“We just had some plays that swung the momentum of the game,” Fleming said.

The Bucs held a 21-14 lead at the end of the first half.

The early third quarter did not go well for the Bucs. Memorial Day scored on just the second play of their possession. The Bucs gave up a 44-yard touchdown run. But, Briarwood did stop a two-point conversion to protect their 21-20 lead.

In the early fourth quarter, a Briarwood halfback pass was picked off by one of the Memorial Day defensive backs. Three plays later, the Matadors scored, what ultimately would be the winning touchdown, on a 77-yard run by the quarterback.

The Bucs trailed 28-21, but still had plenty of time.

Their next possession stalled when a fourth-down pass was dropped. The Bucs soon had the ball back when Thomas Wilkerson recovered a Memorial Day fumble.

The Bucs had 2:19 left in the game and started from the Memorial Day 32.

The Bucs went to the air with an incompletion on first down followed by a  13-yard completion to Tucker Purvis for a first down. Next, Briarwood kept the ball on the ground with a run. Then, Reese went to Purvis again — this time for a 10-yard touchdown. The Bucs were within a point, 28-27, with 1:01 remaining.

Briarwood lined up for a two-point attempt for the win. Reese looked for running room around the left end, but came up short.

Following the kick off, Memorial Day downed the ball for three consecutive plays to let the clock run out.

Freitas, 106 yards from 16 carries, again led the Bucs in rushing. Reese had 68 yards from 22 carries. Purvis led in receiving with five receptions, 47 yards, and one touchdown. Mohr had 20 yards  and two catches.

Scott Reynolds led the Bucs in tackles with 10 total, including four solo.  Jacob Cato had seven total tackles and Wilkerson had six total.

“Up front, Coach (John) Barnett praised the defensive line this week,” said Fleming.

The Bucs next face Brentwood, in Sandersville, this Friday. Past that the Bucs are back at home hosting St. Andrews on Nov. 1 and Edmund Burke Academy on Nov. 8.

“We’ve got to play better defensively going forward. We’ve got our hardest three games of the schedule coming up and we’ve got to cut out the penalties on offense and just bring the best effort we can each and every week,” said Fleming.

This week’s opponent, Brentwood, is expected to be tough.

“Brentwood is probably the best team we will play all season. They’ve got nine seniors,” Fleming said. “We’re going to have to buckle up and be ready to play Friday.”

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