November 29, 2020

Brave defense stymies Darlington

(Franklin, GA) — A suffocating defensive effort led the Heard County Braves to an impressive 21-7 home win over the Darlington Tigers Friday night at Staples Stadium.

The Braves held the Tigers (Class A private) to just 131 yards of total offense with the majority of those yards coming on the lone scoring drive of the game for the Tigers in the third quarter.

The Tiger defense also played well in a game where neither team would score until just before the half.

Senior QB Emory Jones found Jaden Moreland on a short touchdown pass with just 23 seconds to play in the second quarter to give Coach Tim Barron’s squad a slim 7-0 cushion at the half.

The Braves offense struggled to get anything going in the first half but came out strong to open the third quarter scoring again on a 70-yard drive capped by a one yard burst from junior Andrew Leak. Aaron Beasley accounted for about half of those 70 yards on one 36 yard carry.

Beasley finished the game with 100 yards on 17 carries, and has reached the 100 yard mark in all four games.

With the Braves leading 14-0, the Tigers answered with a long drive to close the gap to 14-7 near the end of the third quarter. The drive featured several long third down conversions and the TD came on a fourth down play inside the Brave five.

On the ensuing drive, a nice pass from Jones to Alijah Huzzie set the Braves up at the Tiger 32 to start the fourth quarter, but a big fourth down stop by the Tiger defense would give Darlington the ball at their own 25 with 10:22 to go in the game.

Faced with a possible game-tying drive, the Brave defense came up huge once again forcing the Tigers to punt after a three and out.

The Braves would then go on a long drive with the key offensive play of the game coming on a Jones first down pass to Moreland on third and fifteen deep in Tiger territory.

Jones would take it in on the 12 yard keeper to put the game out of reach at 21-7 with just 2:43 to play. The senior QB rushed for 56 yards on eight carries for the night while completing 14 of 20 for 131 yards and a TD via the pass.

Junior Jakab Moon was solid in the kicking game going 3-for-3 on PAT’s for the night.

Several Braves had big nights defensively including Andrew Leak, Tray Owens, Kendaz Goode, and Tray Dunson who made his first start at defensive end. Dunson recovered a fumble early in the game, one of two first half takeaways by the defense.

Coach Barron was extremely pleased with the big performance from his defense but knows the offense needs to improve.

“Our defense played lights out tonight and I was very proud of the fact that we were physical — you know last year that bunch just physically whipped us for four quarters so I am glad we came out playing hard and physical,” said Barron after the win.

“But we’ve got more on offense than we’re putting out — I mean honestly we just have too many tools not to be playing better. The good news its when the game was on the line though our offense was able to take over and put one in the end zone for us.”

Barron says even as the team moves towards the meat of the season schedule, that position changes like the move of Dunson to DE may still happen.

“You know Dunson is still learning the position and will get better and better but I think he’s excited. We are three or four games in now and still trying to make sure we get our best 11 guys on the field and where they need to be.”

The Braves (3-1) will now get ready for a short road trip up Hwy 27 next week to take on the Central Lions in Carrollton.

The Class AAAA Lions (2-1) had this week off so will be well rested coming into the game. They own wins over Landmark Christian (42-7) and North Clayton (18-13) this year with their lone loss coming in a 41-13 setback to Villa Rica. The Braves defeated the Lions 28-7 last year in Franklin.

Friday’s game versus the Lions will be the final non-region game before the Braves open the Region 5-AA slate in two weeks at Temple.

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