Two big obstacles prevented the Briarwood Academy Buccaneers from upsetting the No. 2 ranked Spartans of Edmund Burke Academy last Friday night, Oct. 22, in Waynesboro at Rogers Field.
But in the end, the Bucs came up six points short, dropping the region game 18-12.
The first hurdle that the Buccaneers could not overcome was three Edmund Burke scores on the first three drives of the game for the Spartans.
The second hurdle was a controversial call at the beginning of the fourth quarter that gave Edmund Burke the ball deep in Briarwood territory instead of giving the Buccaneers the ball at midfield.
"We knew this game was going to be very emotional for both teams," said Buccaneer Head Coach Jimmy Barnett. "EBA is the No. 2 ranked team in Class AA, and we knew we had our hands full from the start."
The Spartans amassed 323 yards of total offense against Briarwood, with 113 yards coming in the air and 210 yards coming on the ground. Ben Hardy was the leading rusher for EBA with 129 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.
"The Spartans showed a lot of formations and different sets like we expected," Coach Barnett said. "They have about 24 different looks in their play book, and we did our best for their high-octane offense."
Briarwood Academy racked up only 188 yards of total offense against the Spartan defense.
A total of 152 yards came on the ground, with the remaining 36 coming in the air.
Buccaneer quarterback Joseph Batrous was the team's leading rusher with 53 yards on 11 carries. He was followed by Jeffrey Kent with 44 yards on five carries, Burt Goolsby with 29 yards and two scores on seven attempts and Tyler Wester with 26 yards on seven attempts.
The Briarwood short-passing game did not prevail as it did a week ago against Gatewood. The Bucs only completed two of seven passes this past Friday night for 36 yards.
Edmund Burke quickly proved to the hundreds of spectators why they are the No. 2 ranked team in the state. The Spartans began their first drive on their own 24 yard line.
On the 12th play of the drive that featured numerous offensive looks, Hardy scored from the three yard line with 5:44 left to play in the first quarter to give EBA an early 6-0 lead. The fake PAT attempt failed, thus the score remained at a 6-0 advantage for the Spartans.
The Buccaneers did not waste any time in getting points on their side of the scoreboard. With their drive beginning on their own 33 yard line, Batrous called his own number on the first play and scampered 35 yards to the Spartan 32 yard line.
Five plays later, Goolsby found paydirt on a six-yard run at the 2:22 mark of the first quarter. Goolsby's extra point failed, thus the score became 6-6.
The Spartans began their second scoring drive moments later on their own 29 yard line. On the fifth play of the drive, Hardy made several cuts and scampered 58 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. The pass attempt for two points failed, thus the score became 12-6 with 18 seconds left to play in the first quarter.
The Spartans began another scoring drive, the third in a row, on their own 28 yard line following a recovery of a Jeffrey Kent fumble.
On the sixth play of this drive, EBA quarterback Eric Kitrell connected with David Wommack on a 29 yard touchdown pass with 9:21 left in the second quarter. The pass for two points failed, thus the score became 18-6.
The Buccaneers narrowed the Spartans' margin to an 18-12 deficit at the 9:51 mark of the third quarter when Goolsby scampered 14 yards for a touchdown on the drive's fourth play. Goolsby's extra point attempt failed.
Briarwood's hopes for another scoring drive seemed like it would come true at the beginning of the fourth quarter. After the Bucs held the Spartans on downs, EBA was forced to punt. However, on a controversial call by the referees, the Bucs were penalized for a roughing the punter call, and Edmund Burke was given the ball on the Briarwood 30 yard line.
After several great defensive stands, the Spartans held on for the six-point victory.
The win increases EBA's record to 6-3, while the loss drops Briarwood's record to 4-5.
Briarwood will play host to the Brentwood Eagles this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. The Eagles are the No. 1 ranked team in the state.