May 9, 2021

Staunch defense spurs Braves over Grangers

The Brave defense allowed just 20 total yards in a 10-3 win at Lagrange Friday night. Pictured above are Quincy Sheppard (#2), David Urquilla (#56), Sam Brown (#54), Zaylin Wood (#4), Tray Owens (#62), and Andrew Leak (#8)

(Lagrange, GA) — Despite a sluggish start to the season offensively, the 2018 Heard County defense stepped up big time to lead the Braves to a 10-3 season-opening road win over Class AAAA Lagrange Friday night at Callaway Stadium.

It was the team’s first win over the Grangers in school history after dropping the only two previous regular season meetings in 2008-2009.

The Braves offense was most impressive in the first quarter with senior running back Aaron Beasley gaining 124 of his 183 rushing yards and getting the bulk of the touches on the first drive where he gained 67. That drive ended with a 23-yard field goal from senior Jakab Moon.

Beasley scampered in from 54 yards away as time expired in the first period. Moon’s PAT gave the Braves a 10-0 lead before both defenses stiffened for the rest of the night.

Senior quarterback Alijah Huzzie was 3-for-4 passing for 74 yards on the night. Tae Gray, Alex Boyd, and Huzzie all had touches on the ground to give the Braves 192 rushing yards for the night. Komari Clark and Quincy Sheppard each hauled in a 34 yard reception from Huzzie.

A smothering Brave defense would not let the Grangers get anything going all night long with the lone points coming on a short field goal in the closing minutes after a miscue on special teams that gave the Grangers inside the Brave 6-yard line. Alijah Huzzie’s good hands recovered an onside kick attempt after the Granger field goal with 1:35 to go in the game to seal the win.

The leaders on defense Friday included seniors Zaylin Wood and Andrew Leak along with juniors Kesean Jonshon and Jai Wright.

Wood, a newcomer committed to the Temple Owls, had 11 tackles including three for a loss and a sack while Leak led the squad in tackles with 12.

Jai Wright tallied eight tackles and a sack while Johnson had seven tackles and a special teams fumble recovery on a muffed punt catch. Johnson was sorely missed in the deep playoff run last year after going down with an injury late in the season and looked strong and healthy as the Brave defense put together one of the most impressive defensive efforts in the state.

Junior Qua Thronton had a huge sack late in the fourth to help thwart a potential drive for the Grangers.

The Braves team defense allowed just 20 total yards including 27 through the air and negative yardage on the ground and forced three and outs on seven of nine drives.

First year punter Colson Jiles saw a lot of action on the night with several good punts the best of which pinned the Grangers back at their own 11.

Brave head coach Tim Barron was very pleased with the defensive effort but knows the offense still needs to find its rhythm.

“The defense played really well and got after it and fought and battled, but offensively we have a whole lot to get better at — penalties, missing blocks and just poor execution and all of those things,” said Barron after the game. “We have a long way to go but it’s about the process of getting better every week and keeping that mentality throughout the season so that by the time we get to region we have all this cleaned up.”

The Braves will be off this Friday before hosting the defending Class AA State Champion Hapeville Charter Hornets in a rematch from last season’s heart-breaking 28-21 home loss in the Class AA State Semifinals.

Let’s Glow Braves will be the student section theme for the night and the game will also feature as the B-92 Country Game of the Week with the Walker Cadillac Buick GMC Tailgate Show going live at Staples Stadium starting at 5:00 PM.

The Hornets are currently ranked No. 1 in the state and the Braves are ranked No. 2 according to the AJC.

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