The Transylvania Times -

Blue Devils Beat Bearcats, Set Up Showdown Against Pisgah


November 4, 2019

Blue Devil senior Parker Grant nailed a pair of field goals that proved to be the difference against Hendersonville. Grant is now 9-for-12 on the year in field goal attempts. (Times photos by Jeremiah Reed)

On a night where nothing came easy, the Brevard Blue Devils moved one step closer to a Mountain Six championship by defeating the Hendersonville Bearcats 20-14 last Friday.

It was the second straight week that Brevard needed a second-half push to get the win, as the two teams were tied 7-7 at halftime.

Ultimately, special teams played a huge role, with a big return on the opening second-half kickoff setting up a touchdown, and a pair of field goals lifting the Blue Devils to their ninth straight win.

The Bearcats came out determined to score the upset, but Brevard made timely plays and was able to run out the clock over the final three minutes for the victory.

"A win is a win," said Blue Devil head coach Craig Pritchett after the game. "We knew it was going to be a tough game. It's hard to win on (Hendersonville's) home field, so I'm proud of our guys. They had to have a gritty performance and find ways to get points on the board. Special teams was the difference for us tonight. And protecting the ball was big for us. That formula for success seems to be working."

Early on, it looked like both offenses found their groove.

Brevard forced the Bearcats into a three-and-out on their opening possession before piecing together a lengthy 58-yard drive capped off by a 16-yard touchdown run from Baxter Swicegood on fourth down.

Parker Grant's PAT made it 7-0 Brevard with 5:40 to go in the opening quarter.

But the Bearcats came right back, connecting on a few big pass plays to move the ball inside the Blue Devils' 5-yard line.

Hendersonville scored on the first play of the second quarter off a 2-yard run from the quarterback and the point after tied the game at 7-7 with 11:55 to go in the first half.

Both defenses stepped up the rest of the first half.

Brevard got into field-goal range with under 20 seconds to go in the half, but the snap was mishandled, leaving things tied up going into the locker room.

Going into the second half, Keishon Couch came up with arguably the biggest play of the night, returning the kickoff all the way to the Bearcats' 5-yard line.

That set up a 3-yard TD run from Swicegood moments later, as the QB rolled out and took a heavy hit just as he snuck inside the pylon. Grant drilled the PAT to give Brevard a 14-7 lead with 10:20 to go in the third quarter.

The Blue Devils looked to be on the move again on their next drive, but a huge completion to John Pickford was wiped out by a holding call, and the drive stalled.

Joe Powell's punt pinned Hendersonville deep in their own territory and Graham Phillips came up with a tackle for loss on second down, forcing the Bearcats to punt.

Brevard started the drive at Hendersonville's 36 and Swicegood connected with Powell for a 29-yard gain on third down.

The Blue Devils got inside the 5, but couldn't get into the end zone, leaving Grant to knock down a 21-yard field goal that made it 17-7 with 1:42 left in the third quarter.

The Blue Devil defense got another big play on the next drive, as Garrett Swicegood sacked the quarterback for a seven-yard loss on first down.

After the punt, Brevard started from Hendersonville's 31-yard line and, once again, moved the ball inside the 10 as the game entered the fourth quarter.

However, the Bearcats' defense held, forcing Grant to knock down another field goal to make it 20-7 with just over eight minutes left to play.

Hendersonville's offense finally got things going on the next drive, aided by a 15-yard personal foul penalty against Brevard.

The Bearcats marched 72 yards in roughly five minutes, with quarterback Woodson Hunter scoring his second TD of the game from the goal line to make it 20-14 with 3:13 to play.

Brevard started the next drive from their own 38, and faced third-and-seven with 1:32 to play.

With the chance to move the chains and run out the clock, Swicegood rolled out to his right before calling his own number and picking up a big gain to move the ball inside Bearcat territory and put the game away.

The Blue Devils continued their trend of dominating the second half against the Bearcats.

Over the last three games, Brevard has outscored opponents 55-20 in the second half and haven't given up more than seven points over the final two quarters in any of those games.

On a cold night that offered a brisk introduction to football weather, Pritchett said the drive from his players in the second half was the difference.

"We've been a second-half team all year. I told the guys at halftime that if we could win two quarters, we could win the game and our kids answered the bell," he said.

With the win, Brevard moves to 9-1 overall and 4-0 in the Mountain Six Conference. That sets up what is sure to be a slugfest this Friday, as the Blue Devils travel to Canton to take on the Pisgah Bears.

Keishon Couch came up with a huge kickoff return to open the second half in Friday's game. The return led to a touchdown run and helped Brevard come away with a win over the Bearcats.

The Bears (7-3) are 4-1 in the conference and have a chance to split a share of the title if they can beat the Blue Devils in the regular season finale.

For Brevard, the Mountain Six title is theirs for the taking.

All they have to do is win in Mill Town.

It will likely take another effort like they had against the Bearcats, but Friday's victory proved Brevard can win close games, and can do so in a number of ways.

"All three phases of the game were big tonight," Pritchett said. "The defense held them in their territory, the offense moved the ball when they needed to and the special teams pinned them back deep. We got the chance to share the championship tonight and, hopefully, we can take care of business next week and win it outright."


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