A miserable downpour all during the game, combined with the absence of four prominent players due to injuries and illnesses and three third quarter touchdowns by the opponents, spelled defeat for the Briarwood Buccaneers last Friday, Oct. 27.
On the road at unfriendly territory in The Swamp at Eatonton's Gatewood Academy, Coach Jimmy Barnett's Bucs could not overcome a host of disadvantages all through the night. From Mother Nature wreaking havoc, to an emergency change in personnel and game plans, Briarwood was handily defeated by the once-beaten Gatewood Gators 35-0 for their first region loss of the year.
The win increases Coach Charles Winslett's Gatewood squad to 6-1-1 on the year, while the loss drops Briarwood's overall record to 5-2-1 and its region mark to 1-1. The Gator's only loss thus far for the year was a very close contest against Brentwood Academy of Sandersville.
"This contest was a pretty tight ball game until the second half," Coach Barnett said. "We were only down by seven at halftime, but mistakes were a given on a night like this with all the rain and water-soaked ground. We turned the ball over twice in the third quarter that led to two Gator scores."
He said the Buccaneers were decimated by injuries to Joseph Batrous, Hughlon Mays, Jonathan Gay and Jacob Gay.
Jacob Gay was admitted to a local hospital last Thursday and given IV treatments for the unknown staff infection. He was released on Sunday, Oct. 29.
"We were contacted late Thursday that Jacob was being admitted to the hospital and would not be able to play against Gatewood," Coach Barnett said. "So late Thursday afternoon in a hurry, we had to change our entire offensive backfield and some spots on defense to fill the shoes of Jacob."
The changes were numerous. Chase Walker replaced David Russell at quarterback. Russell joined Kyle Ewest and Chris Gerlach in the backfield.
"We knew it would be a test during the game, because we simply did not have the time to work on it much on Thursday," Coach Barnett said. "As a result of these quick changes, a small amount of confusion was created with all the replacements. But I knew I had to have Russell running the ball in some form."
The Gators scored their first touchdown with 3:33 left in the first half on a 7 yard halfback sweep. The PAT made the score 7-0. Gatewood put the game away in the third quarter with three touchdowns in less than 11 minutes. Two of these scores came as a result of Briarwood turnovers.
The Buccaneers will now play host to the Pinecrest Academy Paladians from Cumming this Friday night to cap off Homecoming Festivities at the school. Pinecrest runs a spread offense and a multiple defense.
"Pinecrest lost by one touchdown to Gatewood and by four points to Brentwood in the past few weeks," Barnett said. "They will be tough opponents, and we cannot make mistakes."
Briarwood 0, Gatewood 35
Star of the Game: Senior David Russell made several adjustments during last week's game to try and propel Brairwood to a victory. He rotated out from quarterback to running back in place of starting fullback Jacob Gay.
Play of the Game: Gatewood Academy scored three third quarter touchdowns, two off Briarwood turnovers, to post the shutout win.
Up next: The Buccaneers will play host to the Pinecrest Academy Paladians this Friday in the school's annual Homecoming Game.