Briarwood falls short at No. 1 Oxford in 2nd round

By CAYDEN STURGES | Special to the Reporter

OXFORD – Briarwood travelled to Oxford for the second round of the 6A playoffs on Friday, Nov. 13, and while they battled with the No. 1 Yellow Jackets throughout the night, they couldn’t make late plays as their season came to an end in a 35-14 loss to the defending champs.

“I will always remember this 2020 season,” Briarwood head coach Matthew Forester said after the loss. “Not because of the crazy things that have happened, but because of this group of young men here. They have been absolutely phenomenal, and it has been so much fun to coach them this year.”

Briarwood was the first team on the board. Wasting no time, the Briarwood offense found success on the ground early. After a few long runs, the Lions were able to punch it in on a 15-yard run from quarterback Christopher Vizzina for the first offensive touchdown of the night.

Briarwood’s defense was able to hold the Yellow Jacket offense at bay for the first drive and early in the game.

But after a few traded punt, Oxford’s offense immediately went to work and completed a long pass play that flipped momentum. Due to the long pass, the Yellow Jacket run game got going. A few plays later, an Oxford runner crossed the goal line to tie the game 7-7.

After the scoring drive, the teams exchanged three-and-outs. When Briarwood managed to complete a long pass into Oxford territory, the Yellow Jackets forced a fumble on the next play to halt all of the Lions’ momentum. A few plays later, Oxford capitalized by taking a 14-7 lead, which the Yellow Jackets never relinquished.

On the first play of the ensuing drive, Oxford intercepted a pass to take possession on Briarwood’s side of midfield. Oxford scored quickly off of the turnover with a pass over the middle that split the Lion defense. With 21 unanswered, Oxford had all of the momentum going into halftime.

Oxford scored another touchdown to open the second half, which extended the lead to 28-7.

But Briarwood didn’t give up.

Parker Hutson was able to snag an errant pass before taking it to the house from 15 yards out for a pick-6 that brought the Lions within 14 points at 28-14.

“I think our boys did a phenomenal job just playing hard no matter what the scoreboard read,” Forrester said. “They just kept fighting and played Briarwood football until the bitter end.”

But Oxford quarterback Trey Higgins iced the game with 7:59 to play when he snuck in a 1-yard touchdown run to create the 35-14 final.

While senior leaders like Brooks Donnelly helped guide the Lions to another playoff berth, young stars, like sophomore Christopher Vizzina are still emerging in key positions, and the Lions will look to build off of this season moving forward in Class 6A.