September 16, 2021

Braves run past Bremen on Senior Night

Lance Skinner (#74) and Jackson Akins (#56) pave the way for Ashton Bonner (#7) after the hand-off from Brave QB Maurice Fench (#2) in Friday night’s 21-14 in over Bremen (Photo: Jeff Napier)

(Franklin, GA) — The Heard County Braves celebrated Senior Night with a 21-14 win over region rival Bremen at Staples Stadium Friday night.

The win sets up a much-anticipated showdown this Friday night in Lagrange where the Braves (6-3, 2-1) can clinch the 2020 Region 5-AA Championship with a win over arch rival Callaway in the Pulpwood Classic.

The Cavaliers (6-1, 2-1) eliminated the Temple Tigers from state playoff contention with a 41-20 road victory Saturday night.

The Cavs win means the Braves, Cavs, Blue Devils, and Haralson County Rebels will be the four teams to represent Region 5-AA in the postseason although final seeding remains unclear heading into the final week of the regular season.

For the second straight week it was the Braves defense that set the tone early Friday night, forcing the Blue Devils offense to punt on its first drive of the game.

The game remained scoreless after the opening quarter, but the Devils would strike first on a 16-yard TD run midway through the second quarter to take a 7-0 lead.

The Braves would respond with a nice scoring drive of their own with under a minute to play in the half.

Key plays on the drive included a 4th down conversion by Isaiah O’Neal to keep the drive alive as well as a nice first down completion from QB Maurice Fench to Chief Borders.

Fench rushed it in for the game-tying score from seven yards away and the James Newell PAT tied the game at 7-7 at the half.

After exchanging defensive stops to open the second half, Ashton Bonner would finish off the next Brave drive with a short rushing touchdown to put the Braves on top 14-7 with 4:33 to play in the third.

After a big stop on defense by Tyler Lasseter and Anthony Graley forced a Devil punt, the Brave offense took over deep in its own territory at the 10 early in the fourth quarter.

The highlight of the game came on the very next play when Bonner busted loose on a 90-yard touchdown run — the longest of his career to extend the Brave lead to 21-7.

Several Braves had big games defensively including senior defensive lineman Nathan McGoran who did a great job plugging up the middle to allow the linebackers behind him to make some big plays.

Lasseter, Borders, Skylar Thomas and Nathan McClellan all played well in helping to limit the Devils offense to just 218 total yards.

Lasseter had a huge night with two sacks and 16 tackles. Borders had 14 tackles, a caused fumble, and a sack in the game while Thomas had 12 tackles including two for a loss. Jackson Akins had a big fumble recovery.

The Braves had 306 yards of total offense led by Bonner who rushed for 137 yards on just 15 carries and Fench who rushed for 71 yards on nine carries. Fench also completed five passes for 71 yards. Skylar Thomas and O’Neal each had two receptions on the night.

The Braves huge offensive line paved the way for another strong effort from Bonner in the rushing game. Graley, Drew Cornelius, Jackson Akins, A.J. Rogers, Isaac Walls, and Lance Skinner have all played well up front for the Braves the past two games.

“We knew it was going to be a dang war like it is every week in this region,” said Coach Tim Barron after the game. “I’m super proud we were able to play hard for four quarters and winning the battle up front especially in the second half was really big for us as well as getting some big plays when we needed them.”

The Braves will travel to Lagrange for a 7:30 PM kickoff this Friday night at Callaway Stadium.

While a win would secure the Region 5-AA title for the Braves, the Cavaliers need to win and get help from Bremen versus Haralson County to earn the 2020 Region 5-AA trophy.

The Braves are guaranteed no lower than a third place finish regardless of the outcomes this week.

Region 5-AA will matchup versus Region 8-AA from northeast Georgia in the first round of the GHSA Class State Playoffs November 27-28.

No. 2 ranked Rabun County has clinched the top seed in 8-AA. The three remaining 8-AA playoff teams will be Elbert County, Union County, and Banks County with seeding pending the outcomes of this week’s games.

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