The Briarwood Buccaneers played an excellent second half of football, but it wasn't good enough to overcome seven turnovers and a first half with only 21 yards total offense as the Bucs fell 16-14 to Thomas Jefferson Academy last Friday in Louisville.
"My hat's off to them. They did a good job," Coach Jimmy Barnett said. "What it boiled down to was their kids outplayed us. They didn't make mistakes, and when we made mistakes, they took advantage of them."
The Bucs will be hosting Region 2AA powerhouse Bulloch Academy of Statesboro, although a top ranked team in AA, not in the Bucs' Region 1AA, this Friday.
"We're going to have to play ourselves to death Friday night," Coach Barnett said. "Bulloch has got one of the best teams I've seen on film and on paper this year. They're very physical, and they have a lot of resources from Georgia Southern (University in Statesboro) that they use.
Ý"They have a tremendous fullback and a good tailback, and they have a linebacker, Kevin Strickland, No. 40, who's one of the best I've seen."
Thomas Jefferson took advantage of an early Bucs fumble and a couple of penalties, to take a 7-0 first quarter lead.
The Bucs took the ensuing kickoff with seconds left in the first quarter. Early in the second, on a pass attempt from sophomore quarterback David Russell to end Al Dudley, the Thomas Jefferson safety "came out of nowhere" to intercept the ball on about the Jaguars' 35 and score.
"That was the turning point in the game," Coach Barnett said.
The Jaguars scored, but missed the extra point, taking a 13-0 lead and the momentum of the game.
The Bucs came back strong after the half. Senior Burt Goolsby took the kickoff, making an impressive 20-yard kickoff return. Senior Tyler Wester broke to the outside on a trap play up the middle for an impressive 27-yard run. Senior Jeffrey Kent followed with a 12-yard run. Several plays later, fullback Wester popped the ball in from three yards out. Goolsby kicked the extra point to cut the Jaguars lead to 13-7, and the Bucs appeared to have taken the momentum.
The Bucs kicked off and held Thomas Jefferson and then started to drive. A miscommunication in the Bucs' backfield resulted in yet another fumble, and the Jaguars recovered on their own 40. A facemask penalty negated the Bucs' holding the Jaguars on a third down, and several plays later, the Jaguars tried for a field goal on their own five. With the ball appearing to be wide to the right of the goal posts and the Bucs' fans under the goal post signaling no good, the official ruled the field goal good and the Jaguars went up 16-7 late in the third.
The Bucs had another drive stopped by a fumble, but the Bucs' recovered and got the ball back with sophomore Joseph Batrous scoring on a nine-yard pass from Russell. Goolsby kicked the extra point to cut the Jaguars lead to 16-14.
With four minutes left, the Bucs tried an onside kick, which was covered by the Jaguars. The Bucs held as the Jaguars stalled. When the Bucs finally got the ball back, there was only 1:20 left on the clock and the Bucs had only one timeout left. Buc sophomore Kyle Ewest made a critical 18-yard pass reception and Wester made an excellent run down the middle, but the Bucs ran out of time before they could get Goolsby within field goal range.
Senior Kent led the Bucs with 70 yards rushing, a 25-yard pass reception, and 24 tackles. Senior Jason Holley played an outstanding defensive game, making 17 tackles.
The Bucs had 137 yards rushing and 85 yards passing, almost all of that in the second half. Unfortunately, they also had five fumbles, two interceptions and a number of penalties.