Briarwood outlasts Pleasant Grove in low-scoring region win

Published 1:01 am Saturday, September 8, 2018

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

PLEASANT GROVE – Briarwood’s defense and ground game showed that it could win a game in Week 1 of the season, and gave even more proof of that in Week 2, when the Lions traveled to Pleasant Grove to take on the Spartans in their first region matchup of the season on Friday, Sept. 7.

In a tightly contested and low-scoring game, Briarwood’s J.R. Tran-Reno was able to score the game-winning touchdown midway through the second half to put Briarwood on top 10-6, which eventually became the final score thanks to promising defensive play.

Early in the game, it was a struggle offensively for both teams.

After Briarwood (2-0, 1-0) elected to kick the ball away after winning the coin toss, Pleasant Grove fumbled the opening kick of the game, giving the Lions a great opportunity to put early points on the board after recovering the fumble.

The Spartans (2-1, 0-1), however, stepped up defensively and forced Briarwood into a field goal attempt that was eventually missed, giving Pleasant Grove the ball back immediately, as if the fumble had never happened.

That became the story of the opening quarter as Pleasant Grove eventually intercepted a ball late in the first quarter, but the Lions stepped up to keep them out of the end zone as well leading to a 0-0 tie at the end of one.

Both teams battled around midfield for a large chunk of the second quarter, but the Spartans went on a nice drive, showing the first life of offense in the game with a little more than three minutes until the half.

Pleasant Grove got all the way down to 4-yard line, but again, the Briarwood defense stepped up to eventually force a turnover on downs in a crucial stop.

Finally, the first points were claimed by Briarwood two possessions later when the Lions ended the first half with a field goal to take a 3-0 lead at the half.

At that point, the 3-0 lead looked like it may be enough to win the game.

After Briarwood failed to carry the only offensive momentum of the game over into the second half, being forced to pun ton its first drive, Pleasant Grove showed it had made some adjustments at half time.

The Spartans went on a long drive that was capped off with a 5-yard touchdown run that put them in front 6-3 midway through the third quarter.

After being forced to pun ton their ensuing possession, the Lions pinned Pleasant Grove deep in its own territory and stepped up again on the defensive side of the ball.

They forced a three-and-out and got the break they needed on a deflected punt that set the Lions up close to the goal line before Tran-Reno punched in what eventually became a game-winning touchdown that put Briarwood up 10-6.

The Lions’ defense continued its stellar play and persevered that lead to pull off an important region win early in the season.

Tran-Reno still has some work to do on the offensive side of the ball, specifically in the passing game, but his attack on the ground game was key in the victory.

He carried the ball for 121 yards and had Briarwood’s only touchdown of the night. Alex Key ended the night with close to 70 yards in place of star junior running back Luke Prewett who was out with a right shoulder injury suffered last Saturday.

Briarwood will now look to move to 2-0 in region play and 3-0 overall on Friday, Sept. 14, when the Lions travel to take on 1-2 Woodlawn.