NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Four in a row. That's how far the winning streak has now stretched for the Briarwood Academy Buccaneers' football team.
Their latest victim: The Curtis Baptist Crusaders, who fell to Briarwood Academy 27-7 at Lions Memorial Field in North Augusta Friday night.
The Buccaneers will be looking to extend their winning streak even further this Friday night when they play host to the Thomas Jefferson Academy Jaguars from Louisville in a key GISA Region 1-A showdown at the Briarwood field. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. (Please see preview story of the Briarwood Academy/Thomas Jefferson Academy game in this week's sports section.)
"A win is a win," remarked Briarwood Academy head coach John Osborne after the game. "We came out strong, but died down in the third quarter and then came back in the fourth to finish strong."
As has been the case all season, Briarwood Academy junior running backs Ryan Pritchett and Michael Kent along with junior fullback Russell Burdette, were the workhorses on the Buccaneers' first scoring drive of the game.
Sophomore running back Bryce Sowell, the younger brother of senior quarterback Blake Sowell, also figured prominently in the Bucs' win.
"We probably could have and should have scored at least two more touchdowns, but there's no sense in piling on the score when you're already up by three touchdowns," coach Osborne said.
Bryce Sowell scored Briarwood Academy's first touchdown of the game. It came on a 2 yard run with 6:15 left to play in the first quarter. Steven Gunn kicked the extra point, which gave the Bucs a 7-0 lead.
Solid defensive play on the part of several Briarwood players led to the Buccaneers getting the ball back on downs after they stopped the Crusaders scoring drive on a big fourth down play at the Briarwood 21 with 2:14 left in the opening quarter.
One of the biggest tackles made on that drive was turned in by Ryan Nelson, a senior, who went head-on with the Curtis Baptist quarterback.
Pritchett, who has had several outstanding runs this season, continued his assault on the Bucs' next scoring drive. He picked up 20 yards on two straight carries before Blake Sowell showed his speed when he broke loose on a 41 yard run to pay dirt with 11:50 left in the second quarter. Gunn's kick failed.
The Buccaneers, nevertheless, led 13-0.
Curtis Baptist was forced to punt the ball away on their next possession.
And again, the Buccaneers took advantage when they got their hands back on the pigskin.
As was the case in their first two scoring drives, they again were precise in moving towards the goal. But this time, they moved the chains a little more and ate up some valuable time on the clock.
Their third scoring drive started at their own 26 with 9:17 left to play in the first half. By the time Pritchett eventually scored on a 6 yard run, there was only 3:46 left in the second quarter.
Blake Sowell completed a pass to Burdette in the end zone for the two-point conversion that gave the Buccaneers a commanding 21-0 lead.
Curtis Baptist charged right back following the ensuing kickoff by Gunn. The Crusaders managed to drive all the way to the Bucs' 30 before Nelson intercepted a pass to thwart the threat with just 1:33 left to play in the first half. Nelson ran the ball back to the Curtis Baptist 46 where Sowell and company went back to work, offensively.
Burdette made a nice long run that got the Bucs to the Crusaders' 28 before Blake Sowell found Taylor Coxwell open on a pass play that picked up 25 more yards.
From the 3, Burdette bulled his way into the end zone with 55 seconds left in the second quarter.
Gunn's extra point attempt was blocked. Still, the Buccaneers held a 27-0 lead.
Curtis Baptist scored their lone touchdown of the game in the third quarter. It came at the 6:28 mark as Cameron McConnell scored on a 49 yard run.
"Our defense did it again," said Burdette after the game. "The more we practice, the better we seem to be getting, defensively."
Against Thomas Jefferson Academy this Friday night, Burdette believes the defensive unit will again be challenged.
"Our defense is going to have to be stout again," he added.
Bryce Sowell said he was pleased that he a chance to run the ball as much as he did.
"I just like getting out there and running with the ball as fast as I can," Sowell said.
Pritchett, who lives in Washington, said the victory was another win.
"Our defense played real good," Pritchett said. "We've got to step it up and play our best game yet on Friday night when we take on Thomas Jefferson Academy."
"We've got to play our best game to have a chance of beating Thomas Jefferson," Nelson said. "That's what we're going to do."