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Bryan County advance to Final Four with win over Commerce
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The core value of Bryan County’s football team is character. That--alongside grit, determination and courage--was on display Friday night at Redskins Stadium as the Redskins held off Commerce to advance to the Final Four of the Class A-D1 state playoffs.

Austin Clemons bullied his way into the end zone from two yards out with 22 seconds to play to give his team a 24-16 win over the Tigers. The resilient Redskins never trailed in the game as they had leads of 8-0 and 16-8 in forcing Commerce to play catchup.

Clemons’ score – he also ran for three two-point conversions – gave him 76 yards on the night enabling him to break Nick Scott’s single season rushing record. He now has 1,660 yards and 21 touchdowns on 207 attempts. Scott had 1,595 and 23 touchdowns on 232 carries for the 2013 team which was 8-3.

“We beat a darned good football team but that tells you right there we’re a pretty good football team, too,” Coach Cherard Freeman said. “It was a heckuva game for us.”

Next up for Bryan County (12-1) will be defending state champion Prince Avenue Christian (12-1) which advanced with a 41-7 win over Irwin County. The Athens school will be looking to make its fifth straight appearance in the state championship game. The Wolverines also won it all in 2020.

Until this season Bryan County (12-1) had never won a playoff game nor played one at home since it started playing football in 1976 but it has now won three in a row, all at home.

“One more week of practice and four more quarters and Bryan County will be playing for a state championship,” Freeman told his team after the game. “Come in Monday ready to work.”

Tanner Ennis scored two touchdowns, both coming on fourth down plays, and tough-as-a-hickory nut running back Jacari Carney added 68 yards to push his season total to 951.

In their most physical matchup of the season---both teams believe in running the football with the pass an afterthought – Bryan County ran the ball 41 times for 155 yards while Commerce had 178 on 43 attempts.

The difference boiled down to who had the best passing game and on that score Bryan County won hands down thanks to quarterback Sean Kelly Hill who was 5-for-7 for 77 yards including a 17-yard touchdown pass to Ennis in the fourth quarter and what proved to be the play of the game:  a 37-yard completion to tight end Kris Martin that set up the winning touchdown.

When the Tigers were forced to throw the ball, they were woefully inadequate. They completed only one of six attempts for 16 yards and that came against a prevent defense in the waning seconds.

Ennis gave the Redskins an early 8-0 lead when he scored on a 20-yard run around left end nine seconds into the second quarter on a fourth-and-eight play. Commerce made it 8-8 when it scored with 50 seconds left in the first half.

“That was our lead sweep reach,” Hill said of Ennis’ scoring play. “We weren’t looking to throw it.”

 After a scoreless third quarter the Redskins moved into a 16-8 lead when on fourth-and-six at the Tigers’ 17-yard line Hill hit Ennis at the five and he in turn spun and dove into the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Commerce came right back and drove 65 yards on seven plays to knot the score and that was the way it stood when Bryan County got the ball at its own 40 with 2:51 on the clock.

Carney picked up eight yards on two attempts and Clemons got another seven to put the ball on the Commerce 45. Hill then went for the home run ball on a pass to Ennis who appeared to have been interfered with near the goal line. However, there was no call.

On the next play, Hill went to Martin and the rangy tight end pulled it in at Tigers eight. Ennis ran left for six and then up the middle for the game winner.

COMMERCE         0  8  0  8  -- 16

BRYAN COUNTY   0  8  0  16  -  24

Second Quarter

BC:  Tanner Ennis 20 run (Austin Clemons run) 11:51

C:  Jacari Huff 2 run (Jaiden Daniels run) 0:50

Fourth Quarter

BC: Ennis 17 pass from Sean Kelly Hill (Ennis run) 11:49

C: Tysean Wiggins 4 run (Daniels run) 8:40

BC: Clemons 2 run (Clemons run) :22


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