The one thing that has been the nemesis of the Briarwood Academy football program this year struck one final time last Friday night in the GISA State Class AA playoffs.
That adversary -- speed from the opponents -- was definitely the deciding factor in the Briarwood-Pinewood Academy first round playoff game played in Bellville.
"We knew going into our playoff game that their quarterback and defensive back were extremely fast," said Buccaneer Head Coach Jimmy Barnett. "But I never imagined that their athletic ability would be a major factor as it turned out."
The Buccaneers traveled down to Bellville last week to play the Pinewood Patriots in the opening round of the state playoffs. After controlling the lead at halftime, the Bucs relinquished the momentum of the game to the Patriots and ended up on the losing end of a 28-12 final score.
The loss eliminates Briarwood from further playoff action, while the Patriots move on to the second round this week. Briarwood finishes the season at 4-7 overall.
"We played real good football for the majority of the game against Pinewood," Coach Barnett said. "A few breaks here and there for us would have been the difference in this game."
He added, "All year long, we have been battling speed from our opponents and not being able to receive a break when we needed it. This game was no different."
The Bucs opened the game by kicking off to the Patriots. On the third play of the game, the Patriots fumbled the ball, and the Bucs recovered to start a drive of their own.
"Jason Holley caused the fumble and Jeffrey Kent recovered the loose pigskin on our 45 yard line," Coach Barnett said. "Holley hit the Patriot quarterback on an option pitch play, and the pitch did not find its mark. Kent pounced on it."
Kent put Briarwood on the scoreboard moments after this turnover on a 12-yard run to culminate the 55-yard scoring drive. Holley's extra point was blocked, thus Briarwood led 6-0 in the early going of the first quarter.
The Patriots took the lead 8-6 in the second quarter following an interception of a pass that was intended for Kent. After intercepting the Briarwood pass, the Patriots started their drive on the Buc 10 yard line. On the third play from scrimmage following the turnover, the Patriots scored on a one yard win to tie the score at 6-6. A fake kick and pass for the two-point conversion was perfect, thus giving Pinewood an 8-6 advantage.
On the ensuing kickoff, Buccaneer Burt Goolsby returned the kick to the 30 yard line. From there, the Bucs put together a 70-yard scoring drive that put them ahead just before halftime.
After big key runs from Goolsby and Kent the Buccaneers re-took the lead on a two-yard quarterback sneak from Joseph Batrous. The conversion failed, thus Briarwood controlled a 12-8 lead at halftime.
The Bucs received the opening kickoff in the second half, and after coming up six inches short on a fourth down play, the Patriots took over on another scoring drive.
Following the completion of a 30-yard pass, the Patriots were moving down the field against the Buccaneers. On the seventh play of the drive, Pinewood scored its second touchdown of the game on a quarterback draw play from the 18 yard line. The PAT kick failed, thus the score became 14-12 in Pinewood's favor.
The Patriots increased their lead to 21-12 early in the fourth quarter on a pass play that covered 50 yards. After mishandling a snap, the Pinewood quarterback finally fielded the ball and fired downfield to a receiver to elude Briarwood's rush.
Pinewood scored its final touchdown of the game with eight minutes left on the clock after intercepting a Briarwood pass and returning it 40 yards for a score. The PAT was good, thus making the final score 28-12.
"Jacob Gay and Kyle Ewest did a tremendous job for us in holding the Pinewood quarterback from breaking free," Coach Barnett said. "Take away two or three big plays, we would be on top of the scoreboard."
He added, "Goolsby and Kent ran the football great for us. They have done this all year and kept us close in the game."