All summer long, Briarwood Academy Coach Jimmy Barnett has been drilling his players that you have to have determination, desire, and the will to win if you want to be successful on the gridiron.
Last Friday night, his Buccaneers proved they had been listening to him, for they successfully used all three of these traits in recording their first victory of the season. The Bucs defeated the Robert Toombs Crusaders 12-8 to improve their 2006 overall record to 1-0-1.
"Chase Walker played another exceptional game at quarterback in replacement of David Russell,' Coach Barnett said. "He was in a barn-burner again this week, and he has learned more in the past two games than he would in 50 practices. Practices do not give you the full effect of game pressure, and believe me after playing Edmund Burke and Robert Toombs, Chase now knows what pressure is like."
Senior Quarterback David Russell, recuperating from a hip-pointer injury suffered in the opening game against Edmund Burke on August 31, did see some action in this game on the final offensive series for Briarwood. Russell came into the game with 2:05 remaining in the fourth quarter to help run out the clock.
"We sent David in because he has the experience to 'milk' the clock down," Coach Barnett said. "He played safe and got the job done."
He also credited Andrew Johnson, John Spivey, Kyle Ewest and Chase Wilson for solid play.
Briarwood's first score of the game was set up as a result of a recovered fumble by Jonathan Gay on the Crusader's second offensive possession of the evening. Following a three-yard run by Joseph Batrous and an incomplete pass, senior Buccaneer running back Jacob Gay bulled his way 23 yards to the one yard line to give Briarwood a first down and goal situation. On the very next play, Gay again used his strength to score a touchdown from the one yard line at the 2:57 mark of the first period. Chris Gerlach's attempt on the extra point failed, thus Briarwood led 6-0.
With 5:05 left in the first half, the Buccaneers increased their lead to 12-0 following a Crusader punt that placed the ball on the Buccaneer 41 yard line.
On the first play following the punt, Jacob Gay took the handoff from Walker and scampered 21 yards to the Crusader 34 yard line. Gerlach then hauled in a 29-yard pass from Walker to the five yard line.
On the next play, Batrous scored from the five on a sweep to the right side. The attempt for two points failed, making the score 12-0.
The Crusaders would tack on a touchdown and two-point conversion with 11 seconds left in the second quarter to make it 12-8 at halftime.
As the second half began, Coach Barnett knew the pressure on his young quarterback and team would not be any better, for coming into the game, Robert Toombs was the No. 2 ranked team in GISA Class A.
Even though no points were scored in the second half, the Buccaneer defense was tested severely by Robert Toombs. And the defense passed with flying marks.
The Crusader offense kept the ball the majority of the second half and mounted four big drives during the final two periods. However, fumbles spoiled three of these drives, and a punt was the end result of the other.
Briarwood's Jonathan Gay recovered his second fumble of the night, and Batrous pounced on two of his own in the second half to help preserve the Buccaneer's slim four-point lead.
"Chris Gerlach, Jacob Gay and Jonathan Gay had tremendous efforts for us in this ball game," Coach Barnett said. "They proved they wanted this win."
Coach Barnett said Russell should be back at 100 percent by the time the Bucs travel to Thomas Jefferson on Sept. 22.
"Since we are off this week, he will have that extra time to get better," Coach Barnett said.
In rushing for Briarwood, Jacob Gay carried the ball 12 times for 100 yards and one touchdown. Gerlach had five carries for 18 yards. As a team, the Buccaneers rushed 30 times for 145 yards.
On defense, Jacob Gay was the leading tackler with 10 takedowns. He was followed by Spivey with 9½, Ewest with eight and Jonathan Gay with eight.
Briarwood 12, Robert Toombs 8
Player of the Game: Senior Jacob Gay rushed 12 times for 100 yards and one touchdown. On defense, he was the leading tackler with 10 takedowns.
Play of the Game: The Buccaneer defense forced a punt and recovered three fumbles in the second half to stop drives by Robert Toombs. The last fumble recovery, by Joseph Batrous, came with only 2:05 remaining in the game.
Up next: The Buccaneers are idle this week, but they will be back in action at home next Friday night against the Thomas Jefferson Academy Jaguars.