January 17, 2022

Sweet 13! Monster defensive effort leads Braves to State Quarterfinals

Ethan Brant (#15), Matt Brown (#21), and Diamond Delgado (#8) were a huge part of on one of the Braves best defensive efforts in recent memory during Friday night's 28-6 win over Screven County

Ethan Brant (#15), Matt Brown (#21), and Diamond Delgado (#8) were a huge part of on one of the Braves best defensive efforts in recent memory during Friday night’s 28-6 win over Screven County

(Sylvania, GA) — Near flawless play by the defense Friday night and an explosive second half by the offense and special teams propelled the Heard County football team to the biggest road win in recent history Friday night in Sylvania, Georgia where the Braves upended the Region 3-AA champion Screven County Gamecocks 28-6.

A large crowd of Heard County fans went berserk as the Braves battled back from a 6-0 halftime deficit after a first half where they were unable to mount any offense at all against a stout Gamecock defense, but it was the stingy defense that kept Coach Tim Barron’s squad in the game.

The Braves will now move on to game 13 this week for only the second time in county history. The 1990 Braves team was the only other to go this deep at state.

Coach D.J. Curbow’s defense held the Gamecocks to just 116 total yards on the night including a late interception by Chandler Polk in the fourth quarter that sealed the huge win.

Junior Diamond Delgado had another big night on the defensive side with 10 tackles (including four for a loss), one quarterback hurry, a partial sack and a fumble recovery.

Another pair of juniors also dominated on the defensive side of the ball with Matt Brown and Qua Daniels coming up with eight tackles apiece. They also each were in on a QB sack, Daniels with a solo and Brown with a partial.

Senior Elijah Toney and breakout sophomore Ethan Brant both had seven tackles on the night.

Offensively, coach Randall Curbow’s Brave offense managed 311 total yards with almost all coming in a second half that was kick-started by a spectacular 75-yard TD run from senior Duranta Dunson when it appeared he might be stopped short of a first down several times.

The big burst gave the Braves a 7-6 lead with 10:02 to play in the third quarter and boosted the team’s momentum that they would not relinquish again.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Braves recovered an onside kick near midfield but the Screven defense was able to hold.

Later in the third quarter came perhaps the biggest play of the game when junior Rad Brooks blocked a punt deep in Screven territory setting up a score from Austin Barron, who had two TD’s on the night and rushed for 67 yards.

Dunson also added a second score and rushed for 149 yards on 19 attempts. It was the second week in a row that Dunson outrushed the opposing team in yardage.

The Braves scored their third touchdown quickly in the third after the defense held on downs giving the offence the ball at the Screven 40. Freshman quarterback Emory Jones connected on the next play with Toney for 39 yards setting up Barron’s second TD.

Jones was 3 for 5 passing for 56 yards and the freshman has continued to show the poise and leadership of and upperclassman over the past several weeks of the season.

The offensive line Levi Brown, Justin Whitten, Conner Moon, Andrew Cannon, and Jacob Bishop also played a huge role in the win as they really turned it around after a rocky first half.

“Our offensive line getting in there at half time and getting it together and getting it right was just huge,” said Coach Barron after the game. “Their d-line was taking it to us in the first half but our coaches and guys got it together in the second half and the guys got it done. I am so proud of those guys up front and the way they responded.”

The 28-6 win was substantial for the program as they have faced difficulty moving past round two over the past few years.

After a Saturday morning coin flip in Macon went the Braves way, they will now host a quarter-final match-up with the Brooks County Trojans from Region 1-AA at Staples Stadium this Friday night in Franklin with a 7:30 kickoff.

“What heart, character, and resilience this team has shown over the season. They could have started pointing fingers and listening to the negativity but they just stayed together and believing in one another, said Barron.

“This is just a special group of kids to be able to go 1-4 and then turn it around like they have I could not be more proud of them.”

The drive to Screven was the longest road trip in school history at 260 miles and over four hours each way. Other quarterfinal winners in Class AA were Lovett, GAC, Vidalia, Fitzgerald, Pace Academy, and Benedictine.

Stay tuned to HeardCitizen.com in the coming days for more information on the road trip, the coin flip, and next week’s huge contest with Brooks County.

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