Briarwood downs Woodlawn to earn playoff berth

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

NORTH SHELBY – Midway through the third quarter of Briarwood’s game against the Woodlawn Colonels on Oct. 7, the Lions needed a spark.

Leading 14-6, Briarwood forced a punt on the Colonels’ first possession of the second half, when junior linebacker Gabe Russell broke through to block the kick as soon as it left the punter’s foot. From there, defensive back Carson Donnelly led a contingency of Lions as they followed the ball to the end zone before falling on it to add a touchdown to the Briarwood lead.

“You really need those kinds of things to happen in a ballgame,” said BCS head coach Fred Yancey. “That takes a lot of the struggle out of it. That blocked punt shook everything up and gave us a chance to really do a lot better the second half.”

From there, the Lions (6-1, 5-0 in Class 5A, Region 5) railed off 17 points to seal their 38-6 victory over Woodlown (2-5, 2-3) and a berth in the Class 5A playoffs.

“It’s been a bunch of years in a row that we’ve been able to do it, and the kids take a lot of pride in that tradition,” Yancey said of making the playoffs. “We find a way to get in the playoffs every year.”

In the first half, Woodlawn looked determined to spoil Briarwood’s homecoming, when Laquarius Wilson found the end zone from 4 yards out. The Colonels’ 2-point conversion was unsuccessful.

Briarwood answered on its next possession, when quarterback William Gray connected with Caleb Daniels on a 9-yard touchdown pass. Noah Nall added the PAT to put Briarwood up 7-6.

The Lions added to their lead when Gray capped off a 31-yard scoring drive when a 2-yard run into the end zone. Nall’s PAT put Brairwood up 14-6.

Following the defensive touchdown in the third quarter, Briarwood scored on a Luke Miskelley 43-yard run, a Nall 30-yard field goal and a 3-yard run by Carson Eddy.

“When (Woodlawn) got off the bus, they did a good job of playing hard, and we had to fight to make it happen. I give them a lot of credit for matching up with us early on,” Yancey said. “I give our boys a lot of credit for sticking with it when we weren’t doing so hot, and they got better as the game went on.”