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Thunder shuts out visiting Buccaneers in region title game

GARDEN CITY, Ga. -- They needed just one more win to claim the 2010 Georgia Independent Schools Association Region 1-A championship. Such apparently wasn't meant to be for the Briarwood Academy Buccaneers.

Memorial Day School's Blue Thunder made sure that didn't happen, as they walloped the visiting Buccaneers 42-0 at Garden City Stadium near Savannah last Saturday night.

The loss ended a six-game winning streak by the Buccaneers.

Despite the regular season loss, Briarwood still in is in the hunt for a state championship. They will host the first-round of the GISA Class A state playoffs with hopes of bouncing back with a victory over Randolph Southern from Albany. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. A win would allow the Buccaneers to continue their quest for a state title. A loss would end their season.

"There's one thing you've got to do right now: Forget about tonight," lamented Briarwood Academy head coach John Osborne in a talk with his players immediately after he and his team congratulated Memorial Day School players and coaches. "You played a very good football team. You can't allow this game to affect you. What I asked you to do at halftime you did it and did it well."

The Blue Thunder, one of the fastest teams that the Buccaneers have encountered all season, erupted for 29 first-half points and never had to look back.

Briarwood had three scoring opportunities in the game, but squandered each one of them. One of those opportunities afforded itself in the second quarter when the Buccaneers drove all the way down to the Memorial Day School 21 at the 2:44 mark. The Blue Thunder defensive unit was able to stop their opponents' right there, though. The scoring threat was halted on a fourth down and 11 play when sophomore backup quarterback Taylor Coxwell overthrew junior running back Ryan Pritchett in the end zone.

Coxwell was filling in for the senior quarterback Blake Sowell, who was forced to sit out the game because of a badly sprained left ankle. Sowell is expected to be back in action this Friday night after missing two straight games.

Prior to that drive, the Blue Thunder had completely dominated the game. It marked the first time in the first half that the Buccaneers were able to penetrate into Memorial Day School territory.

As has been the story all season, Briarwood showcased three of their most talented players out of the backfield. They included junior running backs Michael Kent and Ryan Pritchett, as well as junior fullback Russell Burdette.

Even with Kent and Pritchett's better than average speed, they proved no match for the Blue Thunder's overall team speed.

"We knew going into the game that they would be the fastest team we had faced this season," said coach Osborne. "They are a real fast team. We were no match to their speed."

In the third quarter, the Bucs attempted another scoring drive.

It followed a fumble recovery by Steven Gunn, a senior, who fell on the ball at the Briarwood 32 with just under 10 minutes left in that quarter.

In that particular series, it was Burdette getting several carries. That drive was thwarted, too, by mistakes on the part of the Buccaneers. They drew three illegal procedure penalties to back them up, as opposed to moving forward.

Some of the standout players for Briarwood in the game included: Taylor Coxwell, Michael Kent, Ryan Pritchett, Ryan Nelson, Fifth Newton, Jarrett Keen, Steven Parris, Bryce Sowell, Tad McCorkle, Taylor Smith, Russell Burdette, Matt McHatton, Ashton Wiley, Dalton Banks, Tyler Edwards, Steven Gunn, Hunter Brinkman and Spencer Wood.

Web posted on Thursday, November 11, 2010

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