• BCHS hosts Benedictine, 7:30 p.m.
Shrugging off three straight losses to open the season, the Bryan County Redskins are 1-0 where it counts — in the region standings.
The Redskins took control early with touchdowns on their first three possessions and defeated Groves 27-12 last Friday at Garden City Stadium in the Region 2-AA opener for both teams.
“We’re 1-0 in the region. That’s the most important thing,” BCHS head coach Allen Cartwright said. “Our goal was to be 1-0 after the first (region) game, so we’re right where we need to be.”
To move to 2-0 in the region, BCHS will need to beat the defending Class AA state champion. Bryan County hosts Benedictine at
7:30 p.m. Friday, the Redskins’ first home game since the season opener against Metter on Aug. 21.
Benedictine (3-0) routed Bacon County 49-15 in its Region 2-AA opener last Friday. The Cadets put the game away early, leading 29-0 after the first quarter and 42-0 at halftime.
“We look at it as an opportunity,” Cartwright said. “It’s an opportunity to go against the best in the state from a year ago, and we’d like nothing more than to knock them off.”
Bryan County (1-3) scored on a five-play, 56-yard drive after Groves (0-4) went three and out to open the game. DeVontae Anderson and Willie Lavant each had 9-yard runs, setting up the Redskins at the Groves 38-yard line.
On third and 8 from the 36, Kimonti Murray took the handoff and outran the Groves defense down the left sideline to the end zone. Christian Thomas tacked on the extra point to put Bryan County up 7-0 with 8 minutes, 3 seconds left in the first quarter.
Following another Groves punt, the Redskins embarked on their most-impressive drive of the night — 89 yards in eight plays for their second touchdown. The big play was T.C. Pippen’s 68-yard catch and run on a deep pass from Gage Hagan on third and
15 from the BCHS 20.
Two plays later, Anderson raced down the right sideline for a 13-yard score. Thomas’ point-after made the score 14-0 with 58 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
A turnover set up the Redskins’ next touchdown. Groves’ Shoppy Roberts bobbled a pass from Tykiem Hines, and Quran George snagged the ball in midair for an interception at the Rebels’ 40-yard line.
On third and 8, Hagan connected with Lavant for 33 yards to the Groves 5. Hagan’s second long completion gave him 101 yards on the only two passes he threw in the game, as the Redskins controlled the ball on the ground.
Two plays later, Anderson scored from 4 yards out. A bad snap prevented the extra-point attempt, but the Redskins led 20-0 with 10:47 to play in the second quarter.
“That gave us some confidence,” Cartwright said. “It’s a lot easier to call plays when you’re ahead than it is from behind. So that’s big for us to get off to a good start.”
A fast start had been the Redskins’ mantra in practice leading up to the game, according to senior running back/linebacker Markus Johnson.
“It was really important to us, especially how we had the momentum going from the first kickoff,” Johnson said. “All week in practice, we had just been talking about jumping on them fast and getting on them.”
Anderson ran for a game-high 55 yards on 10 carries to go with his two touchdowns. Murray added 53 yards and a score on eight carries while
Markez Bostick rushed for 42 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
With their offense sputtering, the Rebels used a trick play on special teams to get on the scoreboard. Dwayne Goldwire ran with the ball on a fake punt, and cut and weaved down the field for a 65-yard touchdown to bring Groves within 20-6.
The Redskins took that lead to halftime, and added to it after Groves failed on another fake punt attempt. The Bryan County defense stopped Goldwire for no gain on fourth and 2 from the Rebels’ 21-yard line.
BCHS took advantage of the good field position, as Bostick burst off right tackle and into the end zone on fourth and 1 from the 12. Thomas’ extra point extended the Redskins’ lead to 27-6 with 5:17 left in the third quarter.
Earl Hamilton scored on a 1-yard touchdown run for Groves with 8:24 to play in the game. Cortez Graves broke up Hamilton’s pass to Tyrone Gadson on the two-point conversion attempt, keeping the score at 27-12.
Hamilton’s touchdown came after the Rebels recovered a fumble at Bryan County’s 15-yard line. BCHS lost two more fumbles in the fourth quarter, giving Groves chances to cut further into the lead.
“You can tell that we’re not used to winning yet, and we let them back in the game,” Cartwright said. “There are a lot of things we need to work on, but we improved vastly. I thought for three quarters we looked pretty good.”
Groves had the ball inside Bryan County’s 15-yard line twice in the closing minutes, but the drives ended with interceptions near the goal line by Darron Jones and James Jackson.
Malik Bostick led the defense with eight tackles and Nathaniel Van Ryswyk made six stops. They each had three tackles for loss and a quarterback sack.
“When things got a little tough and we had adversity, the guys managed to step up when they needed to,” Cartwright said. “The last quarter, we just couldn’t close like we wanted to, and that’s something that we have to fix. But these guys bowed their necks when they had to and got the win.”