November 17, 2017

Brave season ends with heartbreaking 35-34 loss to Trojans

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(Franklin) — A outstanding postseason run came to an abrupt and heartbreaking end Friday night at Staples Stadium where the visiting Brooks County Trojans (10-3) defeated the Heard County Braves (7-6) by a final score of 35-34 in a wild state quarterfinal game that wasn’t decided until the final seconds ticked off the clock.

Coach Barron’s squad proved once again that they never give up as they battled back from an early 14-0 first quarter deficit.

Senior Duranta Dunson scored five touchdowns while carrying the ball 30 times for 216 yards. Dunson finishes his Brave career as the school record holder in many categories including 96 career touchdowns and 6915 career rushing yards while averaging over 10 yards per carry.

Despite missing four games this season with injury, Dunson is still among the state leaders with 1867 yards during his senior campaign.

The Braves defense also stood tall making big stops on several occasions to keep the Braves withing reach. Junior Matt Brown, who emerged as a force this season, led the team with 15 tackles on the night. Junior Austin Barron had a big interception in the second half.

The Brave scoring ended on an odd series of events after a late touchdown. The Trojans took a 35-28 lead with 4:42 to go in the game but the Braves answered quickly needing just two plays, one an Emory Jones pass to Chandler Polk and the other a 38-yard jaunt by Dunson into the end zone.

As the Braves lined up for the PAT that is where things turned strange. The Trojans were flagged for an offsides penalty prompting the Brave coaching staff to send the offense back on the field for a potential go-ahead two-point conversion attempt.

However, before the Braves could get the play off they were also flagged for a delay of game penalty as it appeared the officials never reset the play clock.

With the Braves backed up by the penalty, the extra-point team came back on to the field for the PAT attempt which was partially blocked.

The officials initially flagged the Trojans for running into the kicker but then waived it off.

The Braves defense forced a three and out giving the Braves the ball on offense once again but this time the Trojan defense came up with a big stop ending the Braves season.

The Braves’ small in number senior class leaves with a lot of accomplishments including two region championships and of course this years remarkable deep run into the postseason after a slow 1-4 start to the season.

“The kids played so hard — obviously we did some things to hurt ourselves at times and make it more difficult than it needed to be — but with that being said the way this ball game played out was just a perfect example of our whole season. You know going down by 14 and then battling back and then matching them score for score– this was just a resilient bunch of young men,” said Coach Tim Barron after the game.

“With all they have overcame this season I just can’t say enough good things about this bunch of guys. We are especially going to miss this group of seniors — they helped this program win a lot of football games.”

The Brave Nation fan base made a whole day of it to prepare for the game. A community tailgate spearheaded by Principal Rodney Kay and Cheer Coach Amanda Horn drew a large crowd of Brave fans in the afternoon.

Fans cheered the Brave team in a “Brave Walk” as the team left the pregame meal at the school and headed to the field house for their pregame activities.

John Grey and Clay Harden from Carrollton were also on hand for the B-92 Country Tailgate Show as they hyped up the biggest game in the West Georgia area.

Many Brave fans took to social media Friday night to congratulate and thank the Braves for their tremendous efforts and a wonderfully entertaining postseason run.

“Great game Heard Braves — so proud and grateful for our players and coaches — gave us something each week to be excited about and look forward to — thank you!” posted team chaplain Neil Awbrey via facebook Friday night.

“Mighty Braves, I’m proud to be your fan! Your heart and determination has given me so many exciting Friday nights,” posted cheer mom Tonya Fairbanks. “Though my Senior left her poms behind tonight, we’ll forever be your fans!”

The Braves will return 20 Seniors next season as the Braves once again face a difficult schedule to open the season including another season opener with Fitzgerald in Macon as well as rematches at Macon County, at home versus Cedartown, and of course the Pulpwood Classic IV tilt with rival Callaway which once again returns to Staples Stadium.

 

 

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