November 28, 2020

Cavs stun Braves at Staples Stadium

(Franklin) — The Callaway Cavaliers rallied from an early 17 point deficit Friday night at Staples Stadium, scoring 20 unanswered points to edge the Heard County Braves 20-17 in the 4th annual Pulpwood Classic.

The Braves’ defense dominated almost the entire first half of the game not allowing a first down to the Cavs until very late in the second quarter.

Injuries were a big story for the Braves with starter Ethan Brant not dressing out at all and senior Austin Barron going down early with an ankle injury. Barron would not return to the game and is questionable for next week.

The Braves got on the board first on a 40-yard field goal by senior Collin Nutt. Penalties hurt the Cavaliers early on stopping several offensive drives.

A poor punt set up the Braves’ second score of the game, a 3-yard rush by junior Jonta Gray followed by a Trey Wiggins extra point. Gray had a solid game filling in for Barron. He and Mike Holmes both carried the ball for several positive gains.

After the Braves had taken the 10-0 lead Cedric Maynard had a solid return on the ensuing kickoff bringing the ball to midfield but the Braves defense stiffened again not allowing the Cavs to move the chains.

A key fourth down conversion by Mike Holmes on the Braves’ next possession led to another 3-yard TD from junior running back Dayvin Troy. Another Wiggins PAT gave the Braves a 17-0 lead.

Austin Dean recovered a fumble on the Cavs’ next drive and the Braves looked poised to take an even bigger lead with under three minutes to play in the first half before a fumble of their own inside the red zone gave the visiting team new life.

Brave Captains (L-R): Austin Dean (#44), Jayden Moreland (#2), Mike Holmes (#24), and Peyton Ehlers (#52)

Brave Captains (L-R): Austin Dean (#44), Jayden Moreland (#2), Mike Holmes (#24), and Peyton Ehlers (#52)

The Cavs took advantage quickly, driving 93 yards in less than two minutes to cut the lead to 17-7 as the teams went to the locker rooms.

Sophomore quarterback Emory Jones played very well in the first half completing several passes and breaking a couple of big runs including a 28-yard scamper early in the second quarter.

The second half belonged to Callaway as the Braves struggled to get any points on the board, although the Braves’ defense continued to put up a strong fight keeping the Cavs off the scoreboard during the third quarter.

After a long juggling 30-yard catch from Jones by Chandler Polk at midfield in the middle of the third, the Braves fumbled the ball to the Cavs. However, a few plays later, Jonta Gray came up with an exciting interception for the Braves on a pass tipped by both a Cav receiver and defensive back Jaden Moreland.

The Braves once again looked to get points on the board inside the Callaway 10-yard line early in the fourth before the Cavs’ defense aided by a Brave penalty led to a blocked 40-yard FG attempt by Nutt. The Cavs quickly cut the lead to 17-14 with a 61-yard TD pass.

The Cavs would intercept Jones on the Braves ensuing drive, taking over deep in Braves territory. They again scored quickly on a 17-yard burst by Maynard. The extra point was missed leaving the Braves within a field goal of tying the score.

Coach Barron’s squad would be unable to answer as the Cavs came up with another big interception with 3:46 to play stopping the Braves offense.

The Cavaliers kept the ball for the remainder of the game, not allowing the Braves offense another chance to score.

 “What a night of opportunities that we blew — granted they fought and their kids kept battling but when you have a chance to go up 24-0 before the half you have got to stick in right there,” said head Coach Tim Barron after the game. “Then the penalties on important drives — and not sticking it in during the second half — we have got to change that mindset and mentality and be able to put somebody away. We had opportunities to get away with a win tonight and didn’t do it.”

“I thought we matched up well with them and we played very physical tonight, but at the same time you’ve got to play physical and you have to play smart and we didn’t do the latter,” added Barron. “I was proud of the we played very physical, and I think this is going to be a very good football team, but now we have got to get healthy and grow up a little bit and learn how to put people away when we get the chance.”

The Braves (0-2, 0-0 in Region 5-AA) will host South Atlanta (0-2, 0-0 in Region 4A-AAA) at Staples Stadium next Friday night. The Hornets had a bye this week.

In other Region 5-AA action, Manchester defeated Taylor Co. 32-27, Temple defeated Stewart Co. 56-24, Bowdon lost to Pepperell 40-13, and Bremen lost to Hapeville Charter 48-14.

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