September 16, 2021

Braves fall to Rebels in North Georgia mountains

Brave captains prior to Friday night’s kickoff in Blue Ridge (L-R): Chief Borders, Jackson Akins, Ashton Bonner, and Maurice Fench

(Blue Ridge, GA) — The 2020 football season came to an end for the Heard County Braves Friday night after a 21-14 loss to the Fannin County Rebels in the North Georgia mountains.

The Braves put up a strong fight down to the closing moments on a cold and damp night at Fannin County High School, but could not overcome the Region 7-AA Champion Rebels on their home turf.

The defenses led the way for both teams in a scoreless first quarter with the highlight for the Braves being a fumble recovery by junior lineman Jackson Akins.

The Rebels struck first with 5:44 to play in the first half on a score set up by a fourth down conversion on 4th and 10.

After the teams exchanged punts, Brave quarterback Maurice Fench found senior Ayden Cannon at the Rebel two to set up a short TD rush from Fench that knotted the game at 7-7 with 1:29 to go in the first half.

It was the Braves who came out strong in the third quarter quickly marching down the field on a 75-yard drive that was capped off by an 11-yard scoring run by senior Ashton Bonner. It was another long completion from Fench to Cannon that set up the go ahead score.

The Braves 14-7 lead would not last long with the Rebels responding with a TD on the ensuing drive to again tie the score at 14-14.

A nice kick return and penalty set the home team up at the Brave 42 to start the drive and the Rebels also converted a 3rd and 13 to keep the drive alive after a big stop in the backfield by senior Drew Cornelius and a host of Braves defenders.

A pass interference penalty put the Rebels into Brave territory and a subsequent 48-yard rushing touchdown by the Rebels with 8:35 to play in the game would give the Rebels the 21-14 lead.

The Braves had chances late but were unable to convert – ending a season for a Brave team that dealt with a lot of adversity including season-ending injuries to a number of key Braves early in the season.

“We left a lot out there tonight and we know we did, but we played hard and we never quit,” said Coach Tim Barron after the game.

“If somebody would have told us at the beginning of the season that we would have 4 ACLs, an MCL, a wrist surgery and a foot surgery and still make it to game 12 I would have said I don’t know how we would be able to do it with all those injuries.”

Despite the tough road loss, Barron was very proud of his team and his senior class.

“It didn’t end how we wanted it to, but I’m just so proud of these kids. They showed they have that Heard County heart and that they are going to fight no matter what the circumstances are,” Barron stated.

“I’m especially proud of our senior class — our goals for our seniors is always to ‘leave it better than you found it’ and this group certainly did that. We love them and we are going to miss them. It’s just tough to say goodbye.”

The Braves finish another winning season under Coach Barron with a final record of 7-5. In Coach Barron’s 19 year tenure, the Braves have made the playoffs a remarkable 18 times and finished 17 of those seasons with a winning record.

The Rebels (10-0) will move on to the state quarterfinals this Friday where they will host No. 1 ranked Fitzgerald.

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