The Transylvania Times -

Brevard Survives Second-Half Scare To Beat Chase - Brevard, NC


September 25, 2017

Jeremiah Reed

Aiden Green reels in an over-the-shoulder catch for a 21-yard touchdown catch late in the second quarter against Chase.

If ever there was a tale of two halves, it was Friday night at Chase High School.

After dominating play and scoring on four of their five possessions in the first half, the Brevard Blue Devils surrendered 20 points in the first six minutes of the second half and had to withstand some late drama to come up with a 34-26 victory over the Chase Trojans.

The Blue Devils made it look easy in the first half, putting together long drives on offense and shutting down the Trojans defensively to build a 34-6 halftime lead.

But two quick turnovers in the third quarter and some defensive breakdowns let Chase make it a one-score game that resulted in some anxious moments for Brevard over the final 18 minutes of play.

The night got off to a great start for the Blue Devils as the offense marched 63 yards, pounding the ball on the ground, capped off by a short touchdown run by Stevi Benjamin for the game's opening score.

The Chase offense went three-and-out on their first drive and Brevard went back to work on the ground, but came up short on a fourth down conversion attempt near midfield.

The Trojans started to move the ball on their next possession, but a pass to the far sidelines was picked off by Keenan Hawkins at the Brevard 24-yard line.

The Blue Devil offense went back to work as a couple of carries from Benjamin moved the ball just inside Chase territory.

That set up a Mitchell Johnson fade pass to Luke Ellenberger, who made the grab and shook a defender for a 44-yard touchdown catch less than a minute into the second quarter.

Chase fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Kyle Williams recovered the ball for Brevard at the Trojans' 30.

After Chase was flagged for defensive holding on third down, Ethan Shook got into the end zone on the ground to make the score 21-0 Brevard.

The Trojans went three-and-out again on their next drive and the Blue Devils continued to make it look easy on offense.

Brevard kept the ball on the ground and drove 74 yards for another score courtesy of a 30-yard touchdown catch by Ellenberger.

A miscue on the PAT kept the score 27-0.

However, Chase finally found some life on their next drive as quarterback Xavier Williams kept the ball on an option play, got to the outside and raced down the sidelines for a 59-yard score.

The Blue Devils blocked the Trojan PAT, making the score 27-6.

Brevard started their next drive from their 30-yard line and put together a nice drive to close out the half.

Aiden Green used his height to out-leap a defender for a 20-yard reception and scored with less than a minute left in the first half on a third-down play from the Trojans' 21.

That made the score 34-6 at halftime, and it looked like Brevard was going to win running away.

But the Trojans had other ideas.

After receiving the second half kickoff, Chase was looking at third-and-nine from their own 37.

But a play-action pass fooled the secondary and Williams burned Brevard for a 63-yard touchdown pass to make it 34-13.

The Blue Devil offense got back on the field and moved the ball just like they had in the first half.

Johnson hit Anjel Whitesides, who made a nice catch along the sideline, on a third-down pass to get the ball inside Chase territory.

But on the next play, Benjamin fumbled the ball and the Trojans recovered at Brevard's 48.

Suddenly, the Chase offense found its stride as Williams completed a 16-yard pass on the first play of the drive.

After a short run got the ball to the 25, a handoff up the middle gashed the defense and went for another touchdown to cut the lead to 34-20.

Things got even dicier on Brevard's next drive as Johnson's pass attempt for Breylon Owens sailed high and was picked off by Garrett Hampton, who returned it all the way to the Blue Devils' 14-yard line.

That set up a short touchdown pass – the Trojans' third score in six minutes – to cut the lead 34-26.

And just like that, it was a ball game.

Brevard couldn't get anything going on their next drive, but Green's punt pinned Chase back at their own 16.

The Trojans' tried some trickery, employing a reverse attempt, but Benjamin sniffed it out for a loss of 11 yards to kill the drive.

After a Chase punt, Brevard took over near midfield and was on the move again inside a minute to go in the third quarter.

Then, with the ball at the 26, Benjamin took a handoff and ran into a wall of defenders.

Somehow the ball was ripped from his hands during the collision and Chase took over at the 15-yard line.

Williams went to work through the air again, completing a pair of passes to get the ball to 43, before scrambling for a big gain moments later to put the ball at Brevard's 39.

The Blue Devil defense forced a fourth down, but Chase faked the punt and hurled a long pass that resulted in a pass interferenced call at the 28.

The Trojans looked like they were in business, but on the very next play Williams kept the ball on the option only to find himself swarmed by defenders and dropped for a loss of 18 yards by Benjamin.

That forced Chase to go to the air, only to have the pass sail high and be intercepted by Hawkins with 7:27 left in the game.

However, the Blue Devils couldn't move the ball on offense and a short punt set Chase up at Brevard's 40 with 5:38 left to play.

A few running plays moved the chains before a completion over the middle put the Trojans at the Blue Devil 5-yard line.

But Williams bobbled the snap on the first down play, resulting in a loss of nine yards.

Another handoff up the middle and an incomplete pass attempt set up fourth-and-goal from the 12 with 1:24 to play and the game on the line.

With all his weapons on the field, Williams dropped back and fired a pass, but it was broken up by the defense and the Brevard fans could finally breathe again as the Blue Devils went into the victory formation.

While Brevard made it look relatively easy in the first half, the second-half turnovers gave a spark to the Trojans' offense and they took advantage of some defensive breakdowns and short-field situations.

"We relaxed in the second half and Chase has the kind of athletes that if you relax a bit they can break tackles and make things happen and they showed they can do that. We were a little sloppy with the ball and they made it a tight game. I'm still proud of our kids for hanging on at the end. We had a choice to make – awhether we hang our heads and give them the game or make that last play on fourth down," said head coach Craig Pritchett.

Friday was the second time this season that Brevard didn't score in the second half, as they were also shutout over the final two quarters against Rosman.

In regards to some of the big passing plays Brevard allowed through the air, Pritchett said the main problem was eye discipline in the secondary.

"When you've got good athletes and good players, they'll make you pay for those mistakes," he said.

Jeremiah Reed

Stevi Benjamin fights through two defenders as he battles for extra yards. Benjamin scored once and had some huge plays on defense for the Blue Devils.

In the end, for all the mistakes – both mental and physical – the Blue Devils won by relying on their defense to come up with some key stops down the stretch, including Chase's final drive of the game.

Pritchett said it wasn't always pretty, but the defense made some adjustments and came up with the big plays when they had to.

"The defense had a choice to make. We gave up a few quick scores, the offense didn't help by giving (Chase) the ball in our territory, but the defense bowed their back. Once they weathered the storm, they hunkered down and shut a good team out for the rest of the half," Pritchett said.

With the win, Brevard moves to 5-1, matching their best start since 2006.

The Blue Devils enjoy a bye this week before returning to action Oct. 6 for their conference opener at home against East Henderson.


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