October 31, 2020

Middle Braves earn runner-up finish

The 2017 HCMS Braves after Thursday’s Championship game loss to Bowdon

(Bowdon, GA) — The Heard County Middle Braves (4-5) were unable to overcome the Bowdon Red Devils (8-0) in the West Georgia Small Middle School Championship game Thursday at Bowdon High School, falling 42-24 in an action-packed affair that featured several exciting plays.

The Middle Braves earned the shot at the title after a semifinal home win over Villa Rica and were hoping to avenge and early season 22-6 home loss to the top-seeded and undefeated Devils.

The Braves started the game off well and scored on their first drive after quarterback Will Alford found Isaiah O’Neal on a deep pass to set up a short touchdown run by Franklin Jackson. Jackson scampered in on the two-point conversion to give the Braves the early 8-0 lead.

The Devils would quickly respond on a long touchdown run by Gage Stephens to tie the game at 8-8 with 5:27 to play in the first quarter.

Stephens would score again later in the quarter to extend the lead to 16-8. Stephens’ third TD of the night made it 22-8 late in the first half.

The Braves would answer that score with their most exciting play of the year. Alford pitched the ball back to O’Neal near midfield and he who found first year wide receiver Orrin Rowley deep down the sidelines on a beautiful halfback pass to close the gap to 22-6 at the half.

The Braves tried the play once again later in the half but were unable to make it work a second time.

The Red Devils opened the second half with a long drive capped by a short yardage run from seventh grade quarterback Robert McNeil to amke it 30-16 Devils.

The Braves found new life early in the fourth quarter when Andrew Rogers made a huge fumble recovery to thwart a Devil drive.

Alford would find Isaiah O’Neal for a touchdown to draw the Braves within a score of 30-24. Unfortunately, it was all Devils from that point and they would go on to win by the final of 42-24.

Head coach Dustin Lane was pleased to see his team show so much heart and determination as they improved from the slow start to the season.

“You know we coaches often saw we are proud but I really mean to say I am so PROUD of this group of kids and how hard they worked to get better throughout the season,” said Lane after the game.

“We will miss the special group of eighth graders and HHS will be lucky to have them over there next season. We can;t wait to get back to work with our younger kids and get ready for next season here at HCMS.”

The HCMS band and cheerleaders made the trip to Bowdon and kept the visiting crowd pumped up throughout the game.

The middle Braves started the season 0-3 before battling back to win four of the last six games.

In the large school championship game, Carrollton defeated former middle Brave coach Allen Sikes and the Haralson County Rebels by a final score of 26-18.

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