Rematch Lions face Patriots for second time this season; this time for a trip to the state finals

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Last time the Briarwood Lions faced the Homewood Patriots, it was for a region title. This time, it could mean a 5A state championship.

On Oct. 26, the Lions (12-1) defeated the Patriots (12-1) 20-17 behind two touchdowns by quarterback Joe Craddock and two field goals by Ben Bludsworth.

That is Homewood’s only loss of the season.

The two face off again Friday night at Briarwood for a trip to the Class 5A finals.

Briarwood head coach Fred Yancy said since that game, the Patriots have been on a roll.

&uot;Since they played us, they have played four games and beaten four good teams soundly,&uot; yancy said. &uot;That just reaffirms that they are a great team. This will be a game of two 12-1 teams who have some great wins, and last time doesn’t matter that much.&uot;

Yancy said he still believes Homewood is the best team in the state &045; period.

&uot;They are the best in the state, regardless of class,&uot; yancy said. &uot;I said that before we played them last time and since then they have done nothing to make me think otherwise.&uot;

Yancy said although his Lions won the first meeting, he doesn’t think the Patriots will come into the game thinking revenge.

&uot;They are kind of like us,&uot; Yancy said, &uot;they play to win on Friday night and they are not motivated by revenge as much as they are motivated by playing proud. Homewood’s players have a lot of pride in their program and they will have a huge desire to win and move on to the state finals. But we have that desire as well.&uot;

The Lions will rely heavily on the play of Craddock, who set two school records and tied another in a 42-14 thumping of Williamson in the quarterfinals last Friday night in Mobile.

Craddock set a new school record for touchdown responsibility in a game (6) and a new school record for career passing yards (4,361. The junior also tied a school record for most rushing touchdowns in a game (4).

Much like the first Homewood game, Craddock accounted for 36 of the Lions’ 42 points last Friday night. The other 6 came from the leg of Bludsworth in the form of extra points, much like the first Homewood game.

Briarwood got on the board first when Craddock found the end zone from 3 yards out at the 4:34 mark of the first quarter. Bludsworth tacked on the PAT, capping a 7-play, 64-yard drive.

Craddock added to the Lions’ lead with 11:09 left in the second quarter, scoring from 2 yards out to cap a 6-play, 44-yard drive. Bludsworth’s PAT gave BCS a 14-0 lead.

Williamson cut into the lead when Freeman scored on a 2-yard run to cap a 10-play, 76-yard drive. Russell’s run cut the lead to 14-8 with 7:21 left in the half.

Briarwood added two scored before the half. Craddock struck first from 65 yards away to cap a 2-play, 76-yard drive. Bludsworth’s PAT gave the Lions a 21-8 lead with 6:20 left in the second.

Craddock scored again with 2:19 left in the first half, this time from 1 yard away to cap a 5-play, 58-yard drive. The score gave the Lions a 28-8 lead.

Williamson answered in 9 seconds when Russell hit white on an 85-yard scoring strike. The attempt for two failed, cutting the lead to 28-14 at the half.

The second half belonged to Briarwood, as the Lions posted two more scores to take the 42-14 win.

Craddock hit Taylor Hart on an 18-yard scoring pass with 1:52 left in the third quarter. Bludsworth’s PAT capped a 10-play, 77-yard drive and gave the Lions a 35-14 lead.

With 2:13 left in the game, Craddock found Charles Hoke on a 28-yard scoring pass. Bludsworth’s PAT rounded out the scoring and capped a 10-play, 54-yard drive.

Craddock finished the night with 282 total yards &045; 119 on the ground and 163 through the air. Craddock rushed 14 times for four touchdowns and completed 9-of-12 passes (.750 percentage) for 163 yards and two scores.

Tim Castille finished with 56 yards on 16 attempts and David Eady rushed 10 times for 38 yards.

Hoke caught 4 passes for 105 yards and a score and Hart caught 3 passes for 48 yards and a touchdown.

Tim Castille caught two passes for 36 yards and completed one pass for 13 yards.

Williamson finished the night with 391 yards total offense &045; 131 on the ground and 280 through the air on 26-of-40 passing.

As for Craddock’s performance, Yancy said it was definitely the key to the win.

&uot;Joe got red hot at the right time,&uot; Yancy said. &uot;He made sure everyone realized there were two quarterbacks in that game,&uot; Yancy said, referring to highly-touted Williamson quarterback Russell.

Kickoff for the Homewood game is set for 7 p.m. at Briarwood