The Transylvania Times -

Blue Devils Throttle Jets For First Home Win Since 2013


September 19, 2016

Jeremiah Reed

Brevard junior Stevi Benjamin used fresh legs to break off a couple of big fourth quarter runs against the Enka Jets last Friday. Benjamin had a 22-yard rush to set up one touchdown before capping things off with a 41-yard touchdown run in the game's closing seconds. He finished with 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

In a season of firsts for many members of the Blue Devil football team, Brevard crossed another milestone Friday night.

A 41-yard touchdown run by Stevi Benjamin with 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter capped off a 35-point second half explosion for the Blue Devils, as they cruised past the Enka Jets, 52-20.

The win was three years in the making and allowed Brevard to share the sweet taste of victory with their home fans for the first time since 2013 while also marking the team's first win since installing its new turf field in 2014.

Quarterback Tanner Ellenberger got the offense going early after the Blue Devil defense forced Enka into a three-and-out on the game's opening possession.

After starting from the Brevard 46-yard line, Ellenberger completed a pair of second down passes to Ari Williams and Lane Pressley, moving the ball to Enka's 7.

Ellenberger kept it himself moments later, getting into the end zone for the opening score.

Samuel Kicklighter's point after gave Brevard a 7-0 lead with 8:03 in the first quarter.

A couple of big penalties stalled the Jets' next drive before a low snap on a punt attempt led to Brevard starting inside Enka territory at the 32-yard line.

On the Blue Devils' first play, Ellenberger found Williams down the sideline in the back of the end zone for another score. Following the PAT, Brevard led 14-0, with 5:04 in the first quarter.

Enka's offense moved the ball again on its ensuing drive, getting as far as Brevard's 36, but the Blue Devil defense held on third and fourth down conversion attempts, setting up Ellenberger and company with possession.

However, a long pass attempt intended for Williams down the near sideline was batted and intercepted – Ellenberger's first of the year – before it was returned to Brevard's 41.

But another defensive stand forced a three-and-out, and the Blue Devils started from their 20 after a touchback on the Enka punt.

On the ensuing possession, Ellenberger picked up a first down with his legs before throwing another interception near midfield, which Enka returned to the Blue Devils' 23-yard line.

This time, the Jets capitalized on the turnover.

On first-and-goal from the Brevard 10, Enka quarterback Avery Holbrook did his best Tim Tebow impression with an option jump-pass into the end zone.

Brevard blocked the point after attempt, leaving the score 14-6.

After starting from their 20, Ellenberger led the Blue Devils on a lengthy drive to end the half, including a 39-yard pass to Williams on third-and-10 to get the ball to Enka's 10-yard line.

Brevard couldn't manage to get into the end zone, but Kicklighter split the uprights on a 27-yard field goal to give the Blue Devils a 17-6 halftime lead.

Brevard was set to receive the second half kickoff, but Enka recovered the ball following a short angled kick near the home sidelines, giving them possession at the Blue Devil 35.

But Brevard's defense answered the call once again, giving up no yards on four plays to put the offense back on the field.

The Blue Devils moved down the field quickly, before a third-down completion to Nick Cabe put the ball at the Enka 16.

Two plays later, Ellenberger found Cabe across the middle on third-and-six, and the big receiver stretched the ball over the goal line as he fought through a tackle. Following the PAT, Brevard led 24-6, with 5:40 left in the third quarter.

Another quick Enka three-and-out, accompanied by a muffed punt, set Brevard up with possession at the Jets' 34.

The Blue Devils wasted little time, as Jesse Lowery took a handoff, bounced outside and shed a tackle attempt down the sideline as he sprinted into the end zone, opening the floodgates for Brevard. Kicklighter's PAT made the score 31-6.

Lowery scored again on Brevard's next possession, this time on a 17-yard rush, as the game entered the fourth quarter.

With the Blue Devils leading 38-6, Enka put together its first scoring drive of the second half, capped off by a 10-yard touchdown pass by Holbrook to make it 38-13, with 7:02 left in the game.

Pressley returned the ensuing kickoff to the Enka 27, before Benjamin broke free for a 22-yard pickup on the ground. The junior scored moments later, putting Brevard up 45-13.

Both teams scored on their final possessions: the Jets on a three-yard run, the Blue Devils courtesy of Benjamin's 41-yard exclamation point in the game's final seconds.

Unlike their previous game against Madison – who outscored Brevard 33-13 in the second half after trailing at halftime – the Blue Devils buried Enka 35-14 over the final two quarters Friday night.

During the half, Brevard head coach Craig Pritchett said he challenged his team to finish what they started.

His team answered that challenge, scoring 21 points on their first three possessions of the second half, needing just six-and-a-half minutes.

"At halftime, I knew (Enka's coaches) were telling their team, 'this is how it was last week and that team came back to win.' So I told our guys two things. Give great effort, fix six inches and that would be the difference in the ball game. This was a great game and a great win," Pritchett said.

Brevard's offense continues to find big scoring plays on a weekly basis. Benjamin's late score was the Blue Devils' eleventh touchdown of 20 yards or more and the team's sixth score of more than 40 yards.

Through four games Brevard is averaging 45 points an outing.

Pritchett credits his offensive line with creating opportunities for his playmakers.

"Our offensive line doesn't get a lot of credit, but they created some holes for Jesse and Stevi that you could have drove a truck through. We've got athletes that are exciting to watch. If we can get one key block, those guys are gonna make us look good," he said.

Nick Cabe stretches toward the end zone for a touchdown as a defender tries to drag him down in the third quarter of Friday's game. Cabe finished with 64 yards receiving and one touchdown.

Brevard (3-1) travels to Franklin (2-2) this Friday to kick off their WNC Athletic Conference schedule.

The Panthers are the three-time defending conference champions, and Pritchett is anxious to see his team embrace the challenge of going up against one of the top teams in the mountains.

"Franklin is the cream of the crop," Pritchett said. "It's going to be a physical football game and a good challenge to see where we are."

Stats Leaders

Passing: Ellenberger (12-15, 222 yards, two touchdowns).

Rushing: Benjamin (100 yards, nine carries, two touchdowns); Lowery (53 yards, four carries, two touchdowns).

Receiving: Williams (101 yards, five catches, one touchdown); Cabe (64 yards, three catches, one touchdown).

Tackles: Ethan Shook (13); Tanner Pettit (10).


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