The Briarwood Academy Buccaneers pulled off their biggest football victory of the season by defeating Bethesda Day School 26-13 in Savannah on Friday .
The victory gives the Bucs a 1-0 record in the Georgia Independent Schools Association Region 1-A. The Bucs will attempt to make it 2-0 when they take on Covenant Christian Academy of Macon at the Briarwood field this Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
"The Covenant team is much equal to the Bethesda team that we just played," Briarwood Academy head coach John Osborne said. "Once again, we're going to have to play well in order to beat them."
Against Bethesda Day School, coach Osborne had remarked that his team would have to go down to Savannah with their "A" game. As it turned out, the Bucs did just that.
After getting down 13-0 in the first quarter, the Bucs stormed back and scored a pair of touchdowns late in the second quarter to tie the game 13-13 at halftime. The Bucs continued their offensive assault in the second half, scoring 13 more unanswered points.
Briarwood Academy scored its first touchdown with 3:10 left in the second quarter on a 15-yard run by Michael Kent, his first touchdown of the season. He had been out of the lineup because of an injury. It became a 13-7 game after Trey Stadler kicked the extra point. The Bucs managed to knot the game at 13-13 when Stadler scored on a 1-yard run with just 20 seconds remaining in the first half. Stadler failed in his attempt at the extra point, which would have given Briarwood a one-point lead.
In the third quarter, the Bucs went up for good, as Stadler scored on a 5-yard run with 1:21 left before the start of the fourth quarter. When he kicked the extra point, it gave the Bucs a 20-13 lead -- one they never relinquished.
With 10:57 left in the game, Stadler scored his third touchdown of the contest -- a 3-yard run. His attempt at the extra point failed.
The Bucs took advantage of four Bethesda turnovers in the game. Those turnovers all came on fumbles. Recovering the fumbles for Briarwood was Eric Johnson, Michael Kent, Sol Smith and Carson Wiley.
"The ballgame against Bethesda was won in the trenches," coach Osborne said. "Our offensive and defensive lines won the game for us. They sustained good blocks and held long enough for our runners to find some holes and decent yardage."
He praised the performances of the following players: Steven Gunn, Eric Johnson, Matt McHatton, Carson Wiley and Russell Burdett.
"They really did a super job for us in the trenches -- both offensively and defensively," coach Osborne said.
Defensively, Stadler led the team in tackles, recording 6 tackles and 1 assists. He was followed by Kent, Tyler Edwards and Russell Burdette with 4 solo tackles each.
Briarwood Academy rushed for a total of 286 yards and passed for an additional 28 yards, as junior quarterback Blake Sowell completed 3-of-6 passes to receivers.
The leading rusher for the Bucs was senior running back Matthew McElveen with 22 carries for 139 yards.
Two other runners did well, too. They were Kent with 14 carries for 93 yards and senior Trey Stadler with 9 carries for 35 yards. Stadler also scored three of his team's four touchdowns on runs of 1, 5 and 3 yards, respectively.
"I'm very proud of the way the players went down to Savannah and gave it everything they had," coach Osborne said. "They showed a lot of character. It was a real big win for us."
Coach Osborne says it's now important for his Buccaneers to continue to get better day by day.
"We've got to improve every day, even if it's an inch," he said. "We need to stay the course."