In somewhat similar fashion to a win earlier in the season, the Briarwood Academy Buccaneers scored the winning touchdown on a big run in the final minute of the game to defeat St. Andrews 14-7 last Friday.
Quarterback Dax Reese shed tackles and covered 66 yards to the end zone, giving Briarwood the lead with just 47.9 seconds remaining in the game.
“The line blocked and Dax made a really good run on that last play to give us that win,” said Briarwood Head Coach Bo Fleming. “It was exciting, but I would rather us not get to that point. A win is a win for sure.”
Briarwood was coming off back-to-back losses but the win over St. Andrews boosts their record to 8-2 as they head into the final game of the regular season this Friday.
“It’s a four-win improvement over last year, and we’re hoping to get to nine on Friday,” said Fleming.
Briarwood struggled to move the ball against St. Andrews when compared to their other games this season.
“I give St. Andrews a lot of credit. They gave us some stuff up front, we hadn’t necessarily seen some of that. They were well prepared,” said Fleming.
“What hurt us was penalties. Penalties killed us. On four straight drives in the second half we had a holding call on second down. For us to do what we need to do, we have to cut that stuff out.”
The two teams exchanged turnovers and punts in the scoreless first quarter. Near the midpoint of the second quarter, the Bucs’ offense finally found success. After holding the Lions and forcing a punt, the Bucs started deep on their end of the field at the 22.
Briarwood put together a series of four first downs. A 37-yard gain by Tucker Purvis got the Bucs to the 5 yard line. One play later on a quarterback keeper, Reese scored. Trenton Cotton added the point-after kick and the Bucs held a 7-0 lead with 2:08 until the half.
The Bucs lost momentum as they started the second half. A second-down holding call kept their offense in check. Two plays later, a Lucas Freitas fumble gave the ball to St. Andrews inside Briarwood territory.
Briarwood’s defense gave up one first down, then stood tough. St. Andrews elected to pass on fourth down and the Bucs made the defensive stop a foot short of the marker and halted the scoring threat.
“Our defense really stepped up and played about as well as we have played all season,” said Fleming.
St. Andrews found success moving the ball late in the third quarter and into the start of the fourth quarter. They tied the game 7-7 with 8:46 remaining in the game.
Briarwood drove the ball on the ground, then punted. St. Andrews also stuck to their ground game, and then punted. Those two drives burned significant time off the clock.
But, the St. Andrews punt gave the Bucs the ball on the Briarwood 34-yard line. From there, Reese broke the first-down touchdown run to put the Bucs in the lead. Cotton again nailed the kick.
Leading 14-7, all the Bucs had to do was keep the St. Andrews passing attempts in check, hold on fourth down, then take possession and a knee to run the clock out.
Reese’s touchdown run helped him take top honors in rushing for the Bucs with a total of 115 yards from 18 carries. Freitas was held to just 35 yards from 10 rushing attempts. Purvis ended the night with 37 yards rushing. Reese was perfect on passing, completing all three attempts for a total of 19 yards.
Defensive leaders for Briarwood were Evan Moore, 13 total tackles and 3 solo; Thomas Wilkerson, 11 total tackles and 2 solo; Scott Reynolds, 11 total tackles and 1 solo; and Purvis, 5 solo tackles. Jacob Petrie also picked off a pass and then returned it 29 yards.
This year, the Backyard Battle returns to Warrenton as Briarwood hosts Edmund Burke Academy. The winner will claim runner up in the region.
“Those guys beat us last year, so they’re feeling good about their chances Friday,” said Fleming.
Win or lose, Briarwood will be off the following week and return to play Nov. 22. If the Bucs lose, they will travel to play at St. Andrews. If they win, they will be on the road to south Georgia to play the winner of Terrell Academy and Southwest Georgia.
The only way Briarwood would host any playoff games down the road would be by winning over EBA this Friday. Brentwood has already wrapped up the region title and will play Thomas Jefferson this Friday.
“We’ve just got to play good Friday and not turn the ball over,” concluded Fleming.