The Transylvania Times -

Defense Leads Brevard Past Eastern Randolph 14-7 - Brevard NC

 

November 19, 2018

Brevard linebacker Graham Phillips (No. 9) delivers a big hit to a Wildcat running back in the Blue Devils' first-round playoff game Friday night. Brevard's defense held Eastern Randolph's vaunted rushing attack in check most of the night and came up with some big stops in the second half to help the Blue Devils pick up a 14-7 victory.

On a cold Friday night, the Brevard Blue Devils hosted the Eastern Randolph Wildcats in a first-round playoff matchup that featured two teams averaging a combined 75 points per game.

So, naturally, it was a game decided by defense – and the Blue Devils won the battle.

With the score tied at halftime, Brevard used a 75-yard scoring drive to open up the second half and leaned on their defense to come up with some big stops down the stretch – including a third-quarter goal line stand – on their way to a 14-7 win over the visiting Wildcats.

It was a game that didn't feature many highlights, as both sides were totally committed to running the ball and stopping the run. But Brevard came up with the plays they needed to advance to the second round of the playoffs for the second time in three years.

"The game was what we thought it was going to be," said Brevard head coach Craig Pritchett. "Randolph is a physical football team and they've got some great running backs. They stuck to what they thought they could win with and I told their coach, sometimes you win ugly. But you win and that's all that matters."

Things might not have been flat-out ugly, but it was no beauty pageant, either.

Neither side moved the ball much in the first quarter. Randolph had a nice drive going toward the end of the quarter, but miscommunication on a handoff led to a loose ball, which Brevard's KK Jenkins recovered at the Blue Devils' 26-yard line.

Unfortunately, the offense couldn't move the ball and a low snap on fourth down resulted in a partially blocked punt that gave Randolph that ball at Brevard's 7-yard line.

The Wildcats took advantage, plowing into the end zone on a run up the middle to open up the scoring at 7-0 with 10:30 left in the first half.

Right on cue, Brevard answered with a great drive of their own. Anthony Fields got things started, racking up 35 yards on consecutive carries to move the ball to the Wildcats' 37.

Isaiah Rathbone came in for relief and picked up another first down on the ground at Randolph's 20-yard line.

But the offense stalled, leaving Brevard with fourth-and-five from the 20.

The Blue Devils dialed up an old favorite and executed perfectly, as quarterback Mitchell Johnson delivered a dime to Breylan Owens in the back of the end zone.

Aiden Green's PAT tied things up at 7-7, which remained the score as both teams entered the locker room.

The Blue Devils put together another solid drive to start the second half, as Johnson connected with Luke Ellenberger for a big pickup and Fields moved the ball to Randolph's 7 following a 28-yard run.

Two plays later, Johnson kept the ball on the option, scrambled up the middle from five yards out and dove into the end zone to put Brevard in front.

Green tacked on the PAT to make it 14-7 with 8:30 left in the third quarter.

The next drive was the biggest of the night. After starting from their 38, the Wildcats started to find success on the ground, slowly moving the ball deeper into Brevard territory.

Randolph faced fourth-and-short from the Blue Devil 13 and converted, moving the ball inside the 10. The next play moved the ball inside the 5.

From there, it was a war of willpower. The Wildcats inched closer on two straight runs, setting up fourth-and-goal from the 2.

With the game in the balance, Randolph ran the ball once again, but the Wildcat running back was stuffed as he tried to leap up-and-over the scrum of bodies and Brevard took over following a drive that lasted nearly seven minutes.

Brevard moved the ball near midfield before being forced to punt. Randolph's next drive went nowhere, and the Blue Devils stopped a fake punt attempt to take over at the Wildcats' 38-yard line.

The Blue Devils' next drive ended in a failed fourth-down attempt at Randolph's 20 with 3:00 to play.

Brevard sent heavy pressure on first and second down, and an incompletion on third down had the visitors facing fourth-and-six to save their season.

Randolph set up a quick screen, but Kane Deshauteurs exploded around the edge and batted the ball down, nearly coming up with a pick-six.

Brevard kept the ball on the ground, eventually moving to Randolph's goal line, but more importantly, keeping the clock running and sealing the win.

It was expected for Randolph to offer up a heavy dose of the ground game, but the Wildcats' defensive pressure disrupted Brevard's aerial attack, keeping the Blue Devil offense on the ground, as well.

Johnson came up with some timely throws, but was hurried in the pocket throughout the evening.

Despite not finding much success through the air, Pritchett said he was proud of his offense for rising to the challenge.

"We told the guys coming in that the most physical team was going to win, and to be physical you have to put the ball on the ground. The offense did a great job of picking up those hard yards. Their pressure got to the quarterback and threw the passing game off a bit, but we made the plays when we had to," he said.

Breylan Owens ended his touchdown drought against the Wildcats, coming up with a big grab on fourth down to tie things up at 7-7 late in the second quarter.

As for the defense, it was another big statement victory.

Brevard held a team averaging 40 points a game to only 7 – with the Wildcats' lone touchdown coming on a drive that spanned just seven yards.

Randolph's stable of running backs lived up to its billing, but Brevard's gang-tackling and pursuit were the difference-makers in containing the Wildcats.

"The defense had bodies flying everywhere tonight. Randolph has some really nice running backs and they broke a lot of tackles. But our kids came up big when they had to and got the victory for us," Pritchett said.

With the win, Brevard moves on to face the task of slaying the giant, as the Blue Devils travel this Friday to take on No. 1 seed Randleman.

 
 

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