Freshman quarterback Sawyer Thigpen escapes the rush during second half action in Gibson last Friday evening.

Touchdowns came quickly for the Buccaneers last Friday as Briarwood Academy defeated Glascock County 41-8.

Of Briarwood’s five offensive touchdowns, three were scored on the first snap of a possession. Another scoring drive took only three plays. The remaining touchdown by the offense took just six plays.

“We were able to score quick plays on Friday. The first drive was three, then we went three straight times with one play and scored,” said Briarwood Academy Head Coach Bo Fleming. “It was an easy night on the offensive side. We didn’t have to call many plays, got all the guys in the game, and we were able to work on our passing game.”

Briarwood scored quickly after receiving the opening kick off. Three plays into Briarwood’s first possession, Dax Reese broke a 24-yard touchdown run then Tucker Lord converted the kick to establish a 7-0 lead. After a fourth-down defensive stand, the Bucs got the ball back and the offense was only on the field for one play. On first down, a 48-yard pass from Branson Beggs to Crawford Thigpen scored. The extra point kick was deflected, but the Bucs had taken a 13-0 lead by the middle of the first quarter.

After Glascock punted, the Briarwood offense again took the field — briefly. A first-down strike from Beggs to Lord scored from midfield. Cameron Perkins carried up the middle for a 2-point conversion and the Bucs stretched their lead to 21-0 with 4:15 left in the opening quarter. Briarwood’s next possession, at the start of the second quarter, was also short lived.

On the first snap, Reese raced 65 yards for a touchdown. Lord kicked the extra point and the Briarwood lead grew to 28-0. Glascock picked up three first downs pounding the ball forward on the ground and then came up short on fourth down. The Bucs took possession on their 35 yard line and began the down field march with a combination of runs and passes. A penalty backed the Bucs up and put them in a third-and-25 situation. Beggs connected to Lord short of the first down marker, however the senior receiver reversed field on the defense and fought his way into the end zone.

“Tucker’s really stepped up the last couple of weeks and became a play maker. Going forward for the rest of the season and in the playoffs we’re really going to need some big plays out of him,” said Fleming.

As the first-half clock wound down, the Bucs were leading 35-0 and likely could have scored again. With 31 seconds remaining and on Glascock’s 17 yard line, Fleming opted to have his quarterback take a knee and let the clock run out.

For Briarwood fans, the excitement continued on the second-half kick off. The Glascock return man fumbled the ball while being swarmed by Briarwood’s kick coverage. Junior Anuj Patel recovered the ball in the end zone for a Briarwood touchdown.

“Andrew (Stapleton) made a good kick and the kid fumbled it inside the 5 and somehow the ball went into the end zone and Patel jumped on it. I’ve never in my whole life had a second half start that way,” said Fleming. “I couldn’t be more glad for anybody to get a touchdown than Patel. He works hard every day, he comes to the weight room, and he’s a great kid and does what you ask.”

After that, Briarwood put its younger players in and the clock ran continuously in the second half. Glascock added one touchdown and a 2-point conversion to finalize scoring at 41-8. Reese again led the Bucs in rushing. Against Glascock he provided 113 yards from just four carries. Charlie Mosley delivered 44 yards and Dallas Howard supplied 26 yards.

On the season, Reese is now at 1,171 rushing yards and averaging 11.2 yards per carry. Passing statistics were better than usual for the Bucs with Beggs completing 4 of 5 for 172 yards and three touchdowns. Sawyer Thigpen was 2 of 2 for 43 yards total.

Crawford Thigpen and Lord each recorded two receptions, with Lord scoring two touchdowns and Thigpen one. Tackling leaders for Briarwood included Eli Bragg, 10 solo, 13, total; Gavin Taylor, 7 solo, 11 total; Mosley, 6 solo, 9 total; and Bonner Reynolds, 3 solo, 8 total.

This weekend the Bucs are on the road to Eatonton to face the Gatewood Gators. Last year Gatewood defeated Briarwood 21-12 and the year before the two teams faced off in the GISA Class AA state championship game. Gatewood won. Gatewood brings a 2-2 record into this Friday’s game against 5-1 Briarwood.

But, Fleming said the 2-2 record can be deceiving. The Gators’ two defeats came at the hands of John Milledge Academy and Terrell Academy. Braxton Blakey is still out with a broken leg, but Fleming said the rest of the team is healthy and ready for Gatewood.

“They’re still Gatewood and they are very well coached and they’ve got some playmakers,” said Fleming. “We feel good about it. We’re just ready to go up there and play.”