The Transylvania Times -

Benjamin Strikes Twice To Lead Brevard Past Owen - Brevard, NC


September 18, 2017

Jeremiah Reed

Brevard running back Stevi Benjamin breaks free on his way to a 59-yard touchdown to put the Blue Devils in front of the Owen Warhorses in the third quarter of last Thursday's game. Benjamin tacked on another fourth quarter score to finish with 105 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries.

At its best, television is a medium made for drama.

The Brevard Blue Devils made sure the fans at Memorial Stadium, as well as those watching at home, were thoroughly entertained last Thursday as they scored a go-ahead touchdown with just over a minute to play and withstood a final drive moments later to defeat the Owen Warhorses 27-22.

The hero of the game was Stevi Benjamin, who completely took over the fourth quarter for the Blue Devils, rushing for 105 yards on eight carries and two touchdowns to carry Brevard to its fourth straight win.

Benjamin, a senior who is also part of Brevard's linebacking corps, has shown flashes of big-play potential in the past, but a nagging ankle injury caused coaches to limit him on offense.

Head coach Craig Pritchett decided it was time to take the reins off in front of the TV cameras and Benjamin delivered a primetime performance.

"When Stevi is full-speed, he's a special runner and it was time to give him a shot," Pritchett said after the game. "We were a little nervous to protect his ankle, but he's a game-changer. He got in, the offensive line opened up some holes for him and he took advantage of it."

Thursday's game certainly finished with a bang, but there weren't many fireworks in the first half.

The Warhorses received the opening kickoff and the two sides traded possessions.

Owen got the ball to Brevard's 10-yard line on their next possession, but the Blue Devil defense held and the field goal attempt sailed wide.

Offensively, it was hit-or-miss for Brevard early, as Mitchell Johnson completed a pair of the third down passes to Aiden Green and Breylan Owens, but also appeared out of sync with his receivers at times.

The Blue Devils got on the board first midway through the second quarter after taking over at Owen's 25-yard line following a shanked punt.

After a few incompletions, facing fourth-and-seven, Brevard kept the offense on the field and converted as Owens found a hole in the coverage and reeled in a first-down pass at the 10.

Moments later, Anthony Fields took a handoff to the left and found an opening to the end zone for six.

Green's PAT gave Brevard a 7-0 lead with 8:02 in the second quarter.

Owen wasted little time responding after starting from their own 36.

The Warhorses used a quick screen pass and handoff to Antonio McDowell to get the ball to the Brevard 44-yard line.

Moments later, on third-and-six, Owen quarterback Audun Meyers dropped back and somehow managed to elude a sack from Kane Deshauteurs, scrambling up the middle for a first down to the 28.

Two plays laters, again on third down, Meyers rolled out to his left and hurled a pass toward the visiting sideline.

Owen receiver Ty Davidson reeled the ball in, but appeared to be out-of-bounds and well short of the goal line.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the decision of the officiating crew, who ruled the play a successful touchdown pass.

Owen tacked on the PAT to tie the score at 7-7 with 4:00 in the second quarter.

Neither side was able to move the ball on their final possessions of the half and the teams went to the locker room knotted up.

The Blue Devils started their first drive of the second half from their 39 and went right to work.

Johnson connected on a short pass to Owens, moving the ball to just over midfield before a handoff up the middle to Fields moved Brevard inside the red zone.

From there, Johnson hit Luke Ellenberger on quick pass to the far sideline and the junior shook one tackle before sprinting for the end zone and extending the ball just over the goal line for the score.

Green's second PAT of the night gave Brevard a 14-7 lead less than two minutes into the half.

Following a big kickoff return, Owen set up shop at the Brevard 35.

The Warhorses put together a short pass completion and third-down conversion to get the ball inside Brevard's 10-yard line.

The Blue Devils forced a stop on third down, but Owen rolled the dice and scored on fourth down from seven yards out off a quick screen pass to the far sideline.

Ethan Shook came up with a big play on special teams to block the PAT and maintain Brevard's lead, 14-13.

Brevard's next drive was a three-and-out that lasted less than one minute and gave Owen the ball back at their own 27.

However, a quick pass play flipped the field and put the ball at the Blue Devil 31-yard line.

The Warhorses converted on a short third down before taking the lead on a 16-yard playaction touchdown pass over the middle.

Owen went for two, unsuccessfully, but led 19-14 with just over 30 seconds left in the third quarter.

Brevard's next possession was hampered by a holding penalty that negated a first down, forcing a Blue Devil punt.

Owen took over at their own 37 and moved the ball into Brevard territory before a long pass to the far sideline was picked off by Owens at the Blue Devil 26.

That set the stage for Benjamin.

After a few carries moved the ball to the 41-yard line, Benjamin took a handoff, sliced through the line and exploded into the secondary.

A Warhorse defender tried to tackle him at the 10, but Benjamin drug him the final few yards into the end zone for the 59-yard score.

Green's PAT put Brevard ahead again, 21-19, with 7:35 to play.

But Owen still had some fight left.

Facing third-and-15 from their own 27, Meyers found Ty Davidson wide open downfield and the speedy receiver did the rest, cutting across the field and carrying the ball all the way inside Brevard's 10.

Once again, the Blue Devil defense came up with a stop, but Owen retook the lead off a 24-yard field goal, 22-21, with 4:15 left in the game.

Brevard saved its best drive of the night for when they needed it most.

After starting from their own 35, Johnson dropped off a short pass for Shook that went for eight yards before connecting with Deshauteurs for a huge 15-yard pickup on third down moments later.

Johnson converted again on a third down pass to Owens as the clock wound under two minutes to play.

From there, a pair of carries from Benjamin put the ball just outside Owen's 10 with slightly over a minute to play.

On the next play, Benjamin took the ball off left tackle and fought his way into the end zone to give Brevard the lead.

The Blue Devils went for two, but couldn't convert, leaving the score at 27-22, and leaving Owen one last chance.

The Warhorses nearly found a way, converting on a fourth-and-12 to get the ball to the Brevard 39.

After spiking the ball and two incompletions, the game came down to a final play, fourth-and-10 from the 39 with under 10 seconds to play. Meyers avoided the pass rush and hurled the ball long and high toward the end zone, but Brevard defenders swiftly batted it to the turf to seal the win.

The Blue Devils finished with 309 total yards, balanced between 165 yards on the ground and 144 through the air.

Johnson appeared a little banged up at times in the first half, but finished 15-of-24 for 144 yards and one touchdown, along with some big third down conversions down the stretch.

"I'm super proud of Mitchell for staying in there and showing his toughness," Pritchett said.

Jeremiah Reed

Aiden Green tries to stiff-arm a defender after reeling in a catch during the first half of Thursday's game. Green finished with 14 yards on one reception.

Owens led Brevard in receiving with 69 yards on five catches. Ellenberger had 26 yards on three receptions and the touchdown.

Going into Thursday's game, Pritchett said Owen wasn't your typical 0-3 team and the Warhorses proved him correct, taking the game down to the wire.

But Brevard never panicked under the bright lights and came up with the plays they needed when they had to have them.

"We knew Owen had some players and they were a good football team. An 0-3 record really didn't give them their credit. We were a little shaky on offense and defense, but when it came down to it our guys bowed their back and stood up. We told them to just do their job and to win the second half. We did that and we're 4-1," Pritchett said.

The Blue Devils' next game is on the road at Chase (1-3).


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