Payback can be brutal and rewarding as Bryan County showed last Friday night when it rolled to a 55-14 win over East Laurens at Redskins Stadium in the opening round of the GHSA Class A-D1 state playoffs.
Playing before another sellout crowd, the Redskins seniors erased a couple of bad memories as they continued to make school history in a game which featured four touchdowns being scored in less than a minute.
Jacari Carney led the way as the 5-foot-6, 165 pound running back scored four consecutive first half touchdowns on runs of 35, 5, 36 and 90 yards as he gained 183 yards on seven carries. For the night Bryan County rushed for 330 yards on 31 attempts. And for good measure quarterback Sean Kelly Hill completed his lone pass attempt for a 60-yard touchdown.
Bryan County (10-1) now finds itself in the second round of the playoffs for the first time ever as it continues to make school history.
The Redskins will take on Pelham (5-6) at 7 p.m. Friday at Redskins Stadium with the winner advancing to play the winner of the Dade County (6-5) at Commerce (10-1) game. Should Bryan County win it will be playing its quarter-final game at home should Commerce, also a No. 1 seed, beat Dade.
The GHSA had a universal coin flip on Monday with the result being teams placed higher on the bracket playing at home when same-seeded teams meet in the quarterfinals next week. Bryan County is placed higher in the playoff brackets than Commerce.
In picking up its first ever playoff win the Redskins (10-1) gained a measure of revenge for a pair of losses which had been sticking in their craw for two years.
“This was sweet and it means a lot to win our first ever playoff game and to win it at home,” Carney said. “East Laurens beat us pretty badly when we were freshmen and sophomores so that made tonight’s win even better.”
As freshmen Redskins seniors lost to East Laurens, 33-0, in a winless season. The following year the Falcons coasted to a 41-6 win. East Laurens was 4-0 all time against Bryan County going into the game.
Despite the lopsided win against a Falcons (3-8) team which never knew what hit it Redskins Coach Cherard Freeman said it was without flaws.
“We’ve got some things to clean up, especially on special teams, but I’m proud of the boys,” Freeman said. “We can beat you from any angle and it felt good to move things around offensively like we did.”
One of the Falcons’ touchdowns was the result of an 85-yard kickoff return and quarterback Zay Boston managed to complete 14 of 22 passes for 145 yards. East Laurens ran 36 plays for 145 yards. East Laurens had 183 yards in kickoff returns.
The Redskins did manage to sack Boston three times for 33 yards in losses as Tanner Ennis, Chris Winfree had solo sacks with Austin Clemons and Hill teaming up to dump the Falcons quarterback. And Noah Bailes had a 45-yard pick six for a touchdown.
Bryan County had a 50-yard punt return by Ennis, an interception by Erin Greene and a drive stalling march negated by penalties which frustrated Freeman.
“It’s just one down,” Freeman said in addressing his team after the game. “Don’t be satisfied. We’ve got to come out with the same mindset on Monday.”
The touchdown blitz started when the Redskins, holding a 28-0 lead, forced East Laurens to turn the ball over on downs at the 10-yard line with 1:13 left to play in the first half.
On first down Carney hit a big hole off right tackle and raced 90 yards for his 10th touchdown of the season. The Falcons’ Dankevious Richardson returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to get the Falcons on the board.
The two teams weren’t finished though as Bryan County then struck on its first play from scrimmage following the kickoff when Hill spotted Ennis uncovered on the right flank and hit him on a 60-yard bomb for a 42-7 lead with 32 seconds on the clock.
Seventeen seconds later Bailes picked off Boston at the 45 on the Falcons’ first play from scrimmage after Kris Martin’s kickoff and took it the distance for a 48-7 halftime lead.
The crowd was still buzzing about the wild finish when Ennis added to the fireworks by returning the second half kickoff 88 yards. Younger brother Cooper kicked the extra point and at that point Freeman turned the game over to the backups.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Freeman said of the string of touchdowns. “It was crazy.”
With Carney scoring four times and Ennis twice along with Bailes’ Pick Six the Redskins’ other touchdown came on a 1-yard run by Hill on their first possession. Clemons, who had 92 yards on eight carries, had two two-point conversions and Carney had one as he finished with 26 points.
EAST LAURENS 0 7 0 7 – 14
BRYAN COUNTY 12 36 7 0 – 55
BC: Sean Kelly Hill 1 run (kick failed)
BC: Jacari Carney 35 run (kick failed)
BC: Carney 5 run (Carney run)
BC: Carney 36 run (Austin Clemons run)
BC: Carney 90 run (Clemons run)
EL: Dankevious Richardson 85 kickoff return (Madison Cheek kick)
BC: Tanner Ennis 60 pass from Hill (kick failed)
BC: Noah Bailes 45 interception return (kick failed)
BC: T. Ennis 88 kickoff return (Cooper Ennis kick)
EL: Kyan Snead 41 pass from Zay Boston (Cheek kick)