LOUISVILLE, Ga. -- Penalties and mistakes were big culprits in why the Briarwood Academy Buccaneers didn't win the football game against the Thomas Jefferson Academy Jaguars last Friday night.
Two of those mistakes led to touchdowns by the Jags, who celebrated their annual homecoming with a 21-7 victory over the visiting Bucs.
The two teams had gone into the game with the GISA Region 1-A championship on the line, as both teams were undefeated in region competition. In two weeks, Briarwood Academy will play host to TJA, but the game won't have near the significance. It will be a makeup
"If we hadn't made those two mistakes, things might have turned out different," lamented Briarwood Academy head coach John Osborne. "It was a tough loss; there's no doubt about that. We thought we had prepared well for this game and had worked hard in practice to get ready of it. We did everything we possibly could do. We were fired up. It just didn't work out."
Coach Osborne said penalties and turnovers "hurt us badly" in the game against Thomas Jefferson. "We've got to regroup and get it in our heads that we must beat DEA."
This Friday, the Buccaneers travel to Emanuel County to take on another big region opponent -- David Emanuel in Stillmore. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Despite the disappointing loss to the Jaguars of head coach Chuck Wimberly, coach Osborne told his team immediately after the game as they huddled together with fans looking on that he was proud of them.
"We fought them hard," the head mentor said. "They know they were in a ballgame tonight, because of the way we hit them."
Coach Osborne said his team must improve in all aspects of their game, but especially on defense.
"We just couldn't stop them, defensively," he added. "We've got to learn to do a better job defensively."
One of the big plays was the opening kickoff by Thomas Jefferson. Instead of them kicking long, they surprised the Briarwood with an onside kick -- one that resulted in a fumble. It was recovered by Thomas Jefferson at the Briarwood 48.
The Jaguars marched into the end zone from that point several plays later on a 3-yard touchdown run by senior running back Taylor Barrentine, who rushed for 154 yards on 26 carries. The touchdown came with 6:37 to play in the first quarter. The extra point by Hank Gilmore gave Thomas Jefferson a 7-0 lead.
Briarwood came storming back, getting all the way to the Jag's 13 before Briarwood junior quarterback Blake Sowell threw an interception to thwart the scoring threat.
The Bucs got the ball back later in the second quarter, but were forced to punt it away to the Jags. It was then that TJA mounted a sustained scoring drive that began at their 29. Ballentine ended up scoring his second TD of the game on an 8-yard run with 51 seconds remaining in the first half. Gilmore's extra point made it a 14-0 game -- the way it stayed as the half ended.
Thomas Jefferson scored their third and final TD of the game after the opening kickoff of the second half. It ended on a 4-yard run by sophomore Austin Dressel, who rushed for 107 yards on 25 carries. Gilmore's PAT made it a 21-0 game.
Briarwood's lone touchdown came on a 1-yard run by senior running back Trey Stadler with 1:27 left to play in third quarter action. He also kicked the extra point.
The touchdown drive by the Buccaneers, which was engineered by Sowell, followed a nice ensuing kick return by Ryan Nelson of a short kick. Three different ball carriers then made way for the Bucs to finally hit pay dirt. They included Stadler, Matthew McElveen and Michael Kent.
Defensively, those same three players, as well as Saul Smith, Steven Gunn, Adam Hardy, Russell Burdett, Eric Johnson, Carson Wiley and Tyler Edwards played well for Briarwood Academy.