For the second straight week in middle school football action, the Buccaneers of Briarwood Academy were victorious.
They defeated the visiting Gatewood Academy Gators of Eatonton in a game played at the Briarwood field last Thursday night. The final score was 34-27.
The Buccaneers of head coach Bo Fleming improved their season record to 2-1 with the big win.
"It was a great game," coach Fleming said. "We played hard and kept fighting. Our quarterback, Jack Russell, was amazing, as was our offensive line, consisting of Austin Hardy, Mason Kent, Matthew Mooney, Grayson Rhodes and Dusty Anderson."
The Gators had one of the best running backs that Briarwood Academy will see all season.
"He had a big day, but we found a way to stop him when it counted," coach Fleming said. "I could not have been more proud of our team. Getting Dakota Reese back from an injury gave our offense a spark. It took everyone to pull this one out."
Coach Fleming pointed out that his team must bounce back again this week and again work towards improving different aspects of their game.
"We need to keep this momentum going," he added.
Offensively, the Buccaneers got some big firepower from three of their mainstays.
Jack Russell was the workhorse, rushing for 197 yards on 32 carries. He scored a pair of touchdowns. Jake Brooks carried twice for 85 yards and scored a touchdown. Dakota Reese rushed for 20 yards on three carries and scored two touchdowns.
The Buccaneers got off to a nice start, as they drove all the way downfield and hit pay dirt on the opening possession. The scoring drive took just seven plays. It was capped on a one yard run by Russell, thus giving the young talented Buccaneers a 6-0 lead with 4:30 left to play in the first quarter.
After forcing the Gators to punt the ball away following their first possession, Brooks demonstrated his blazing speed, as he went down the left sideline on an 82 yard touchdown run that gave the Buccaneers a two touchdown lead. Briarwood wide receiver Tripp Harper provided a key block that allowed Brooks to get into the end zone.
The Gators got on the scoreboard in the second quarter which cut the Briarwood lead to 12-7. Gatewood closed the door on the Buccaneers, defensively, on their next possession and later scored on a 75 yard run. It gave the Gators a 14-12 lead with 3:43 remaining in first half action.
With less than a minute to go before halftime, Briarwood Academy drove downfield again and scored to reclaim the lead, 18-14. The sustained drive, which took nine plays culminated on a two yard touchdown run by Reese, his first one of the game.
Unfortunately, the Buccaneers weren't able to keep the Gators out of the end zone before the first half came to a close. The Gators managed to score on a 35 yard run with just five seconds left in the second quarter. As a result, they regained the lead, 21-18.
Following intermission, the third quarter was played out with neither team managing to score.
After the Buccaneers stopped the Gators late in the third quarter, Russell and company then put together another nice sustained scoring drive, which involved 10 plays. It was capped on a one yard touchdown run by Reese, thus allowing the Buccaneers to reclaim the lead again, 26-21 with 7:54 left in the game.
Defensively, the Bucs rose to the occasion again, forcing the Gators to punt the ball away on their next possession.
Russell and his teammates took advantage again and got into the end zone to extend their lead to 34-21.
That touchdown was scored by Russell on a one yard plunge. He earlier got loose in the secondary of the Gators for a 35 yard run. Following the touchdown, Brooks ran for the two-point conversion.
Ahead by two touchdowns, the game still wasn't over.
The Gators fought back and scored again on a 55 yard run to make it a 34-27 game. They then forced the Buccaneers to punt the ball away and drove all the way down to the Briarwood 15 as time expired.
Defensively, the Buccaneers were led by Jackson Sims with seven solo tackles and four assists.