Briarwood advances to second round
By MARK WINDHAM/For the Reporter
NORTH SHELBY — Briarwood is no stranger to the AHSAA playoffs, as they have made them for 21 straight seasons. That experience showed as the Lions defeated the visiting Eufaula Lions 32-15 in the first round of the playoffs.
After a scoreless first quarter, Briarwood would get good field position to start the second quarter as John Rutledge blocked a Eufaula punt to give the Lions possession at midfield. Briarwood drove 50 yards on eight plays with quarterback Walker Lott finding Blythe Woods for an 8-yard touchdown reception. Lott connected with Brayden Housel on the 2-point conversion to give the Lions an 8-0 lead.
Eufaula answered back quickly with a six-play, 76-yard drive capped off on a 30-yard touchdown pass. The PAT cut the Briarwood lead to 8-7 with nine minutes remaining in the half.
The Lions extended their lead before the half on a 12-play 62-yard drive for a touchdown. The drive was highlighted by Victor Jerald’s 5-yard run on a fourth down from the Eufaula 14-yard line. Two plays later, Lott hit Housel with an 8-yard touchdown strike. Jonathan McGehee’s PAT gave the Lions a 15-7 lead at the half.
Briarwood continued their scoring on their next drive as Jerald carried the ball three times for 26 yards, capped off with a 14-yard touchdown run. McGehee’s PAT extended the lead to 22-7.
McGehee extended the lead to 25-7 two possessions later when he kicked a 34-yard field goal 1 minute into the fourth quarter.
Eufaula struck back quickly, scoring on a 54-yard double-reverse touchdown pass. The Lions added the 2-point conversion to cut the lead to 25-15.
After a Lions’ three-and-out, Briarwood’s Sam Sherrod came up big for the Lions when he broke up a Eufaula pass deep in Briarwood territory on fourth down with six minutes left in the game.
The Briarwood offense put the game away on the ensuing drive as they drove 42 yards on six plays, taking nearly three minutes off the clock. Lott kept the ball on a quarterback keeper and carried it in from 14 yards out for the touchdown. McGehee’s third PAT of the night closed out the scoring for a 32-15 Briarwood victory.
Briarwood coach Fred Yancey was proud of the effort by his Lions. “It was a big win for us tonight,” Yancey said. “Anytime you are in the playoffs and you are still alive, it’s good. I was proud of our kids for hanging in there against a tough team.”
Briarwood was lead offensive by Walker Lott with 101 yards passing and two touchdowns. Lott added 103 yards rushing and a touchdown on the ground. Victor Jerald added 115 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Brayden Housel caught four passes for 35 yards with a touchdown. Blythe Woods added 18 yards and a touchdown on two receptions.
With the win, Briarwood advances to the second round of the AHSAA playoffs where they will travel to Jackson, a 50-20 winner over Leflore. Briarwood defeated Jackson in the first round of last year’s playoffs.