After multiple miscues and missed opportunities, Brunswick high fell 24-7 to Bartram Trail on Friday night.
For most of the game, it was a defensive battle as both squads were scoreless after the first quarter. The Pirates found some momentum on offense along the way, but continue to come up short when it matters.
Starting quarterback Anthony Mountain improved from last week coach Sean Pender said. The senior went 13-of-28 for 123 yards and two interceptions. He also led the Pirates in the rushing attack as well as he averaged 4.5 yards a carry. Mountain toted the rock 14 times for 63 yards while scoring the only touchdown for the Pirates.
Chuckobe Hill continued to dominate on the ground with 11 carries for 54 yards. Khamori Simmons was the third leading rusher for the Pirates with nine carries for 35 yards.
Che’querdo Foy came up big multiple times for the Pirates as did Xavier Bean. Foy had a miraculous one-handed catch in the fourth quarter to save Brunswick’s final drive and allow the Pirates to get into the end zone finally. He had seven catches for 69 yards. As for Bean, he was also pivotal in that final drive as he had three catches for 30 yards.
Pender said he isn’t praising the wideout for that catch because it was that kind of grab they needed from the offense all game.
“I’m not praising that right now. There were too many mess-ups throughout the game,” Pender said. “That is a make up, and he needed to make that catch. That’s one big play of what we’re trying to get done. We’ve got to be consistent in our route running, consistent in making catches and we can’t catch the ball with our chest and let the ball bounce out. We’ve got to learn how to be playmakers.”
One of the most significant issues on the offense outside of not being able to convert on crucial downs were the number of false start penalties. The Pirates had at least four illegal procedures or false starts. However, Brunswick was missing starting left tackle Kanaya Charlton, so the backups had to step up in a big way.
Brunswick finished the night with 123 through the air and 153 on the ground with 276 total. Pender thought that was a good effort considering that is the best secondary he’s seen in his high school coaching career.
“That’s the best secondary I’ve seen in the 20-plus years I’ve been coaching,” Pender said. “They got three of their four guys with Division 1 offers. We knew that we were going to have to run the football and move the ball. We knew it wasn’t going to be a lot of big shots, but we took shots here and there. We have to make those plays, and we’re not doing that right now. We’re going to keep plugging and keep working, and we’ve got to make those plays.”
Despite the loss, Pender said that he thought his guys had a good effort and that his defense played extremely well.
“There’s still a lack of execution still there. We have to be consistent because we had some dropped balls, some missed blocks and key stuff to keep drives alive,” Pender said. “I think our defense played awesome. I’m proud of the guys’ effort, and we worked hard. Again we’re struggling to put the ball in the end zone we got to be able to put the ball in the end zone, we’re not doing a good job at that. We’ve got to get better there. Hats off to Bartram Trail, they’re a state power and a very good football team. I know they’re going to do well.”
The game could have turned out differently if one play stood as called. During the first quarter, Brunswick’s defense batted down the ball, and it was supposedly caught and returned to the 50-yard line. However, instead of standing, the referees said it hit the ground. Pender said that play didn’t go as he liked and that if it stood, they would have had an opportunity to tie the game at seven instead of going down 14-0.
“The interception that was a misfortune,” Pender said. “They said it was incomplete when it clearly wasn’t, that kind of stuff, that gave them a touchdown. Instead of us having the ball being down 7-0, having the ball on the 50-yard line, they still get the ball there and then they end up punching it in, and it’s 14-0. So plays like that, the ball needs to bounce our way occasionally.”
Brunswick defense did a great job causing havoc in the backfield and even made Bartram Trail’s starting quarterback cough up the ball twice. Both times it was sophomore Devonte Gadson, who started over the suspended Demetrius Hardee that came down with both picks.
Pender said he thought that his secondary stepped up in a big way and played exceptionally well. They made plays and avoided some big-time catches, however, the Bears still found a way to put up points.
All three touchdowns came from starting running back A.J. Jones who toted the rock 13 times for 79 yards and two rushing scores. The other score came off a 22-yard pass.
The Bears starting quarterback Chad Dodson did his job as well completing 12-of-23 passes for 174 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.
Brunswick’s defense found ways to stop the Bear’s offense, but Jones was too slippery for the arm tackles the Pirates had for him. Bartram Trail is an 8A school in Florida who competed for a state title last year, and the Pirates were able to hold them to 24 points.
While it wasn’t a victory, it somewhat shows what kind of defense Pender and his team have and how if the squad continues to improve what it could be.
Up next for Brunswick High is McIntosh County Academy at home on Sept. 6 at 7:30 p.m. as the Pirates look for their first win of the season.