A lightning bolt from quarterback Jamarius Stevens to wide receiver DJ Whitfield on the first play of the game set the tone Friday night for Brunswick High’s first Region 2-6A game against Bradwell Institute.
Quick strikes in the first half and ground-it-out drives in the second half helped the Pirates tame the visiting Tigers 64-21 at Glynn County Stadium.
Stevens and Whitfield connected for a 65-yard touchdown on the first play of the game to give Brunswick a 7-0 lead 12 seconds in the game.
“They were in a type of coverage that allows that to happen,” said Brunswick High head coach Sean Pender. “They tried man coverage on the outside and that helps us out. That works to our advantage. It set the tone early.”
Bradwell, which entered the game undefeated, took advantage of a short field and running back Kevin Harris’ knack for bouncing off tacklers to tie the game at 7-7 with 6:43 to play in the first quarter after a 6-yard touchdown run by Harris.
Brunswick’s aerial attack helped the Pirates convert a fourth-and-8 from the Bradwell 25-yard line to keep its next drive going. Shaq Robinson’s 3-yard plunge up the middle would put the Pirates back on top 14-7.
After a Tiger three-and-out, Stevens needed just one play to extend the lead. He connected with Alonzo Brown, who made a leaping catch over a Bradwell defender and kept his feet to run 53 yards for the score to make it 21-7 with two minutes to play in the first quarter.
The trend continued in the second quarter. Another three-and-out by the Tigers led to a six-play Brunswick drive that covered 60 yards. Stevens found tight end Maliek Alston, who bowled over a few +defenders on his way to a 23-yard touchdown to make it 28-0.
Brunswick’s defense kept the Bradwell offense and Harris in check for most of the first half. Harris entered the game third in the entire state in rushing yards, but was held to just 66 yards on 19 carries in the first half.
The Bradwell defense seemed to have the Pirates in a pickle in with a third-and-long, but Stevens found Jaylen Jackson for a 40-yard gain. One play later, Sharrod Frazier sprinted in untouched from 7 yards out. A two-point conversion from Stevens made it 36-7 at halftime.
The Pirates lost a bit of their edge in the third quarter as Bradwell got its offense into gear. Tigers quarterback Vencent Gilbert hit O’Brien Nobles on a quick slant that turned into a 67-yard Bradwell score after Nobles split the two safeties and outran the Brunswick defense to the end zone.
The Tigers made it a two-score game on their next possession. Harris got loose for a 53-yard run to set up Bradwell in the at the Brunswick 11-yard line. Three carries later, Harris plowed through the Pirate defense to cut Brunswick’s advantage to 36-21 with 5:42 to play in the third quarter.
The threat appeared to wake up the Pirates. Brunswick’s ground game helped chew up clock and yards on the Pirates’ next drive with Jaylen Trimmings rushing in from 13 yards out to make it 43-21 and effectively kill any chance of a Bradwell comeback.
“We fell asleep for a little bit, but we woke back up,” Pender said.
Robinson and Stevens would run touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and backup quarterback KJ Lee tossed a touchdown pass to Bashawn Wesley in the final minutes to ice the blowout win.
Pender wasn’t surprised by the chemistry between Stevens and his receivers
“We saw it in practice all week,” Pender said. “Jamarius was focused all week in practice. I’m proud of him. I’m proud of the whole team really.”
Stevens finished the game 20-of-31 passing for 410 yards and three touchdowns. Whitfield was his top target with six catches for 136 yards while Brown caught five passes for 106 yards.
Harris led Bradwell’s offense with 145 yards on 32 carries with two scores.
Up next for Brusnwick (4-1 overall, 1-0 Region 2-6A) is the City Championship against Glynn Academy. As if the game doesn’t already mean so much to everyone in Glynn County, the winner will also be in control of its destiny when it comes to the region title.
“It will probably be the biggest crowd I’ve ever played against,” Pender said. “We’ve got to put this game behind us and get focused on them because that’s a very good football team we’re about to play.”