The Briarwood Buccaneers moved closer to a playoff berth Friday with a 45-26 victory over the host David Emanuel Academy Eagles in Stillmore, Ga.
Coach John Osborne praised the 15 players who were able to suit up for the GISA Region 1A showdown, after recent injuries sidelined three Bucs for the rest of the season.
The Bucs converted on four of five two-point-play attempts, and junior Fifth Newton split the posts with his first point-after of the season.
The victory puts the Bucs at 6-3 for the season with only one region loss as they return to the
Briarwood gridiron Friday for a senior night clash with the undefeated and top-ranked Blue Thunder of rival Memorial Day Academy of Savannah.
The Eagles scored on the opening drive at 9:24 of the first quarter when Blake Patterson reached pay dirt on a 5-yard run. The kick failed, however, and that set the pattern for Briarwood's aggressive play calling.
Briarwood's Russell Burdette knotted the score at 6-6 with a 3-yard run at 8:17.
"We felt that if we went for two it would help with the scoring, making it 8-6. We felt we would put David Emanuel in a position to go for two again, and they wouldn't be able to," Osborne said.
"So we decided to go for it, and it worked in our favor," Osborne said.
Michael Kent took the handoff on the 2-yard run and gave Briarwood an 8-6 lead.
Five minutes later, Kent scored on a 6-yard run and the Bucs again went for two. Steven Parris passed to Colt Phelps, to give the Bucs the 16-6 edge.
The strategy paid off at 7:47 of the second quarter, after DEA's Chet Ellison passed to Blake Patterson for a 19-yard score. A penalty pushed the Eagles farther from the goal line, but they still attempted the two-point pass, and failed.
The Bucs had to weigh strategy carefully again late in the second quarter, when they still held a 16-12 lead but found themselves at fourth-and-two at midfield. Osborne called a timeout and told the Bucs they must succeed or have to play some tough defense. He said the team assured him they could convert. Burdette got the call and the first down. Moments later, Ryan Prichette scored on the 2-yard run. A DEA pass interference call took the Bucs closer to the goal line, and Burdette ran for two points at 0:53 left in the half.
Pritchett scored on a 9-yard line at 10:13 of the third, and Parris passed to Kent for yet another 2-point play.
Kent broke the lines for a 71-yard score at 11:10 of the fourth, but the pass attempt failed.
DEA's Patterson ran 21 yards for the score at 7:34, but the kick failed.
Briarwood's Burdette scored on a 37-yard run at 6:32 of the fourth, and Newton's only kick of the night was good.
DEA closed the scoring at 1:32 when Ellison ran one yard for the touchdown, then passed to Mitch Thompson for two.
Osborne said the decision to go for two extra points was difficult. He said Newton delivered as a kicker but also has played well at other positions.
"Fifth has gone from left guard to quarterback to now having to kick extra points and he's been in a lot of stressful situations and I was so excited that he got that point," Osborne said.
"We gave a lot of credit to our offensive line," Osborne said. "They blocked really well Friday night and a big thanks goes out to Colt Phelps, Jackson Williams, Fifth Newton, Tad McCorkle, Dalton Banks and Brice Sowell."
The Bucs played without the help of right tackle Eli Holder, a junior, who suffered torn ligaments in his elbow before the Thomas Jefferson game a week earlier. "He's a big part of our team," Osborne said. "He had played right tackle all year and we really need him on the line."
"Brice Sowell, one of our running backs, had to take that job and he has done a fine job at that position for having to learn his blocking assignments," Osborne said.
Starting quarterback junior Taylor Coxwell and backup quarterback senior Dalton Reese also are out for the season, each dealing with a broken leg.
That cuts the Bucs' 18-man roster to 15 players, and Osborne said those 15 played hard and never quit.
"Come out and support the Bucs for senior night," coach Osborne said Monday.
Depending on the outcome of the Thomas Jefferson Academy clash with Covenant Academy, Briarwood might find itself in a three-way tie for the second. A Monday night game at a neutral site would settle seeding for the opening round of playoffs.
"As the standings are right now, we're No. 3 and we'd have to travel," Osborne said.
Those complications, however, were secondary in Osborne's mind on Monday when he handed out credit for Friday's victory and set his sights on the final regular season game. "This week we do play at home, the No. 1 ranked team, undefeated," Osborne said. "They've got a real good ball club and we're gonna end our season with a real tough opponent in Memorial Day."
Briarwood 45, David Emanuel 26
Briarwood 16 8 8 13 - 45
D. Emanuel 6 6 0 14 - 26
DE-Blake Patterson 45 run (kick failed), 9:14
BR-Russell Burdette 3 run (Michael Kent 2 run), 8:17
BR-Michael Kent 6 run (Colt Phelps pass from Steven Parris for 2 point conversion), 3:37
DE-Blake Patterson 19 pass from Chet Ellison (PAT failed), 7:47
BR-Ryan Prichette 2 run (Russell Burdette 2 run for 2 point conversion), 0:53
BR-Ryan Prichette 9 run (Kent pass from Parris for 2 point conversion), 10:13
BR-Michael Kent 71 run (pass failed), 11:10
DE-Blake Patterson 21 run (run failed), 7:34
BR-Russell Burdette 37 run (Fifth Newton kick), 6:32
DE-Chett Ellison 1 run (Mitch Thompson pass from Chett Ellison for 2 point conversion), 1:23
First Downs 17 18
Rushes-Yards 47-419 48-269
Passing Yards 6 64
Comp.-Att.-Int. 2-2-0 4-11-1
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 3-0
Punts-Yards 0 2-42
Penalties-Yards 3-40 8-66
RUSHING-BR: Michael Kent 15-167, Russell Burdette 17-162, Ryan Prichette 12-63, Jake Brooks 2-15, Jack Russell 1-12.
PASSING-BR: Steven Parris 2-2-0 6.
RECEIVING-BR: Colt Phelps 1-3, Michael Kent 1-3.
RECORD: Briarwood 6-3.
NEXT: Memorial Day at Briarwood, Friday, 7:30 p.m.