Briarwood Academy played and won its first region game of the season last Friday night, beating Westminster Christian Academy 42-6 in Watkinsville.
The team, now 2-7 for the season, seems to be getting things together, and just in time to continue region play. The Buccanneers' next three games are all region ones, leading off with the homecoming game this week against Gatewood.
Offensively and defensively, everything seemed to fall into place in Watkinsville.
On Westminster's first possession, the Buc's Dave Joesbury intercepted, stopping the Lions. Joesbury, who put forth probably his best showing of the year, caught a TD pass from junior quarterback Chase Walker for Briarwood's first points of the game. With 8:32 left in the first quarter, Joesbury proceeded to kick the first of six straight PAT's he nailed in Watkinsville. The defense held, and the offense took back over at the 50-yard line, driving downfield behind the running of junior Nick Dawson and sophomore Matthew McElveen. Junior Cane Gilmer scored on a two-yard dive play. Joesbury added the kick for a 14-0 Bucs lead with 1:37 left in the first quarter.
Once again the defense shut down Westminster. The Bucs took over the ball deep in their own territory. On fourth down, the heavily pressured Walker scrambled before managing to connect on a 22-yard pass to sophomore Trey Stadler. A few plays later, McElveen broke several tackles on a 20-yard dive play up the middle for the score. Again, Joesbury connected on the PAT for a 21-0 Bucs lead with 9:41 left in the second quarter. Westminster scored with 7:26 left in the second quarter when the officials ruled "what looked to be an incomplete pass" a fumble. Westminster recovered the ball in the end zone for their sole score of the game. The kick failed.
Heavily pressured by the Westminster pass rush, Walker managed to get off a 12-yard "pop" pass up the middle to Stadler and hit Joesbury on a short four-yarder. Walker then tossed a 32-yard TD pass to Joesbury down the right side for a TD. Joesbury's kick gave the Bucs a 28-6 halftime lead with only 42 seconds left in the half.
More importantly, the successful completion of the passes forced Westminster to not only back off pressuring Walker when he passed, but also free up the Bucs' running game.
Joesbury ended the first half with a 16-yard interception at mid-field.
Midway through third quarter, the Bucs were forced to punt from mid-field. On the punt return, freshman Garrett Mohr forced a fumble, which was covered by Dawson at the
Westminster 24-yard line. Several plays later, Walker hit Stadler on an eight-yard TD pass. Joesbury came in to kick the extra point to up the Bucs' lead to 35-6.
After the ensuing kickoff to Westminster, junior defensive end Ben Raburn found his way into the Westminster backfield to throw the quarterback for a nine-yard loss. Although on their own 30-yard line with a fourth and long, Westminster went for the first and was stopped by the Bucs' defense. Taking over the ball on the Westminster 39 midway through the fourth quarter, the Bucs' offense went to a straight running game to run out the clock. After short gains by several Bucs and on a third down and two, McElveen dove up the middle and then cut to the left for a 16-yard gain. With 9:04 left in the game, Mohr scored on a five-yard quarterback trap. The Bucs kicked off and held, then ran the clock with Mohr taking a knee to end the game.
The Bucs' offensive output speaks for itself, according to Fleming. While QB Walker threw three touchdown passes, Senior Joesbury caught two of those passes and then added six straight extra PAT kicks to account for 18 of the Bucs' 42 points. On the ground, McElveen broke the 100-yard gained marked for the second time this season.
"We shut them out defensively," Coach Morey said, pointing out that Westminster's lone TD was on a fumble recovery in the end zone.
"Our defensive line played a great game," he continued. "They made the majority of the tackles, which took the pressure off our linebackers and allowed them to shut down their (Westminster's) passing game, which we were a little worried about going into the game."
The Bucs' reached Westminster's quarterback three times with sacks being credited to Gay, Raburn and Matthew Graziano. Joesbury added two interceptions to the Bucs' defensive tally.
The Bucs will face their second region foe of 2007 as they host Gatewood School of Eatonton in the Bucs' Homecoming at 7:30 p.m. this Friday at Briarwood.
The Bucs are ready for Gatewood, 5-3 overall and 1-1 in region play, coaches Josh Morey and Bo Fleming said. In region play, the Gators defeated Brentwood School of Sandersville 7-6 earlier in the season and lost to Pinecrest Academy of Cumming 16-6 last Friday night. Both games were in Eatonton.
"We're getting the effort and intensity now that we've been hunting for, and this is the right time to find it, because it's crunch time for us as well as everybody else in the region," Coach Morey said of the coming weeks as the teams in Region 1AA play their region schedules.
Star of the game: Senior Dave Joesbury was everywhere. He caught tow touchdown passes, two interceptions and kicked six extra points.
Play of the game: Briarwood Quarterback Chase Walker and Joesbury hooked up for a touchdown on the Bucs' opening drive.
Up next: Briarwood plays host to Gatewood for homecoming on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.