January 24, 2022

Braves surge past Blue Devils

(Manchester, GA) — After a much needed bye last week, the Brave Nation traveled south to Manchester Friday night and used a strong second half to defeat the Blue Devils 35-20 in a game that featured the return of Duranta Dunson from a broken collarbone injury that happened in week two of the season.

The star senior tailback did not start the game instead seeing only limited action on offense but he made the most of his opportunities averaging an astounding 14+ yards per carry. Dunson rushed for 183 yards on 13 carries with a 53-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

“I mean you could see the lift as soon as he (Dunson) got out there — not just for us as a team but for our fans — that’s a spark.,” said Coach Barron following the game.

“If you had told me he would come out and do what he did tonight after five weeks of no contact I wouldn’t have expected it  — just because most human beings aren’t going to come back from a collar bone injury that quickly and do the things he did for us tonight. For him to do that lets you know just how special he is.”

The game was closer than the final score would indicate and was knotted at 7-7 at halftime.

The Braves got on the board first after an 87-yard drive culminated in a nine yard score by junior Austin Barron. The long drive was set up when sophomore Mike Holmes intercepted a Devil pass at the Braves 13-yard line early in the game.

The first score by the Blue Devils came on a blocked punt returned for a touchdown in the second quarter.

Braves coaches and fans became extremely frustrated in the first half when referees called holding penalties on the Braves on four consecutive plays, two of which nullified long Brave touchdowns. The Braves were called for 17 penalties in the game for a total of 135 yards and the Devils were flagged eight times for 55 yards.

Less than three minutes into the third quarter, freshman quarterback Emory Jones connected with senior Elijah Toney on a 20-yard TD pass to give Barron’s troops the lead 14-7.

The Blue Devils appeared to be driving for a game tying score until junior linebacker Hunter Lane came up with a another huge interception for the defense setting up Dunson’s longest run of the night for a 53-yard TD.

A high scoring fourth quarter saw each team find the end zone two times. Emory Jones scored on his longest run of the season from 57 yards while Barron added his second TD of the night from  just outside the 1-yard line. Sophomore Trey Wiggins was a perfect 5 for 5 on PAT kicks.

“I thought we didn’t play real good in the first half but I thought in the second half we played a whole lot better,” Barron said. “For the most part our defense played extremely well all night. We are going to need to get after it this week to prepare for a team like Bowdon next week.”

Barron expects Dunson to play on both sides of the ball next week as the Braves travel north next week to face the juggernaut Red Devils. The game will have huge implications in the outcome of Region 5-AA as well as state playoff seedings. The Devils and Braves will each enter the game with 2-0 region records.

The Braves are currently riding a 20-game winning streak in region play, a new Heard County Brave record.


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