May 23, 2019

Braves rally late to upend Hornets in season opener

Brave captains Thursday night (L-R): Ethan Brant, Avery Wright, Collin Wright, and Dayvin Troy

Brave captains Thursday night (L-R): Ethan Brant, Avery Wright, Collin Wright, and Dayvin Troy

(Atlanta, GA) — Junior quarterback Emory Jones and the Heard County Braves offense punched the ball into the end zone with just 1:16 to play at Lakewood Stadium Thursday night to complete a wild fourth quarter comeback 22-19 win over a much-improved South Atlanta Hornet squad.

The 2016 edition of the Braves overcame numerous obstacles before rallying from a 19-7 deficit with under 10:00 to go in the regular season opening game.

Senior DayVin Troy’s 1-yard game-winning burst came on a 4th down and goal and was followed up by a 2-point rush from Ethan Brant before the Braves defense stiffened as time expired on the Hornets.

The Hornets were clearly a much-improved squad led by senior Frank Bailey, Jr. who found the end zone three times.

The game started several minutes late because of a lightning delay and was stopped for another lightning delay after Jones found Brant on a 21-yard TD pass to give the Braves a 7-6 lead with 6:22 to go in the first quarter.

On the first play after the 48 minute delay, Bailey returned the kickoff 89 yards to put the Hornets back on top 13-7.

Several big penalties and turnovers stalled potential scoring drives for the Braves throughout the game.

Standout junior move-in Brave running back Devante Patrick went down early in the game with a serious knee injury.

After Bailey, Jr.’s third TD of the night early in the third quarter, the Brave defense would not allow another score.

A 3-yard scamper by sophomore Andrew Leak with 9:26 to play closed the gap to 19-14 before the last-minute comeback.

Troy was excited to get the game-winning score but credited his o-line for getting the late push when needed.

“I knew I had to punch it in because my teammates were counting on me,” said Troy after the game. “But if it wasn’t for that great blocking up front I would have never gotten in.”We played as a team tonight and as long as we have that bond and the leadership our season can be great.”

The game-winning play was set up by a long run from another senior, Mike Holmes. Junior Jaden Moreland had a nice game including several nice kickoff returns.

Barron was not pleased with his team’s sloppy play, but was glad to see the fight and effort to overcome the late deficit.

“We have such a long way to go but I think we needed to win one like that to help us believe in ourselves because anything that could be bad was bad tonight, said Barron. “We were turning it over here and penalties there — slopping around — but for our guys to just keep fighting and to find a way to win such an ugly game does make me proud.”

The Braves will open the home schedule at Staples Stadium versus long-time rival Greenville next Friday at 7:30 PM.

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