Receiver makes last-second defensive play to save win for Lions

MADISON – J.R. Tran-Reno made the game-saving play on his first defensive snap of his high school career as Briarwood survived at Madison Academy, 21-17, on Oct. 28.

After a defensive struggle for most of the game, the two teams exploded for 24 points in the last 1:52—and there were almost six more points scored on the last play of the game.

The visiting Lions, winners of nine consecutive games after a season-opening loss to Chelsea, struck first, as a 15-yard pass from William Gray to Tran-Reno set up Gray’s quarterback sneak for a touchdown in the second quarter.

In the third quarter, Madison Academy (7-3) blocked a punt and then drove about 40 yards for a score to tie the game at 7-all.

The hosts took the lead, 10-7, with a field goal with about two minutes remaining in the game.

On the first play of the ensuing possession, Gray hit Tran-Reno for a 62-yard touchdown.

Noah Nall was good on all his extra points for the evening, including this one to make the score 14-10 Briarwood.

But the excitement was just beginning.

A Madison Academy pass over the middle of the field squeaked by two Briarwood defenders and into the hands of the receiver, who raced into the end zone.

Then it was time for another Lions quick strike, this time a 65-yard touchdown pass from Gray to Carson Eddy to retake the lead, 21-17.

The hosts still had another chance, and they were able to position themselves for a last-second heave into the end zone.

A Madison Academy receiver grabbed the pass and was coming down inbounds when Tran-Reno, who was inserted on defense for the play, jarred the ball loose to cause an incomplete pass and Briarwood win.

“A lot went on in the last minute and 50 seconds,” Briarwood coach Fred Yancey said. “With one second left, that’s the only play [Tran-Reno] has ever played defense in his life. We just put him in because he’s an athletic kid.”

Briarwood will host Corner on Nov. 4 in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs.