Rathbone's Huge Night Powers Blue Devils Past Trojans


Last updated 11/25/2019 at 4:01pm

Isaiah Rathbone took the first handoff of the game 60 yards to the end zone, and never looked back, finishing with five TDs on the night to lead Brevard past Chase, 48-21.

Playing in what could be his final game at home in a Blue Devil uniform, Brevard senior Isaiah Rathbone put on a performance for the ages Friday night.

Rathbone rushed for five touchdowns in the first half, finishing with more than 200 yards on the ground, as Brevard scored 27 unanswered points and shut out one of the most prolific offenses in the state in the second half to defeat the Chase Trojans 48-21 and advance to the third round of the 2A playoffs.

The senior set the tone early, taking the first handoff of the game 60 yards to the end zone to give Brevard an early 7-0 lead.

But the Trojans were as advertised, and the game was an early shootout, with eight of the first 12 possessions resulting in touchdowns.

However, Brevard used a key defensive stand in the second quarter to swing the momentum and scored off a turnover minutes into the second half.

From there, the Blue Devils used their power run game to wear down the opposing defense, and forced two more second-half turnovers for a resounding victory.

Coming into the contest, most of the hype centered on the Trojans' offense, but Brevard stole the show, posting their most impressive offensive performance of the season when they needed it the most.

"We knew Chase had a great offense, but our offense came out ready to play and make a statement," said Brevard head coach Craig Pritchett. "It was really back and forth until we finally got a stop on defense, which was huge. I think that got our confidence back up and we made some adjustments at halftime and looked much better in the second half. Offensively, we wore them down running the ball and hit some big passing plays. So, it was a big night."

After Rathbone's fireworks got things started, Chase answered immediately, moving the ball 63 yards in barely 90 seconds to tie things up at 7-7.

Brevard lost a fumble on their next possession, but the defense got a crucial stop on fourth-and-goal at the 5-yard line.

That set up a 95-yard scoring drive highlighted by some nice completions from Baxter Swicegood, including a 22-yard completion over the middle thanks to a diving grab from Tripp Harris.

Rathbone made his second trip to the end zone on a 17-yard run, and Parker Grant's PAT made it 14-7 with 3:19 to go in the first quarter.

But Chase continued to find big plays, putting together another 63-yard drive capped off by a 10-yard rushing TD to tie things up at 14 with 40 seconds to go in the first quarter.

The Blue Devils were on the move again as the game entered the second quarter. Swicegood hit Anjel Whitesides for a 22-yard gain that set up Rathbone for an eight-yard TD run to put Brevard up 21-14 after the PAT.

However, it took less than two minutes for the Trojans to tie things up, as Chase scored on a 3-yard QB sweep to make it 21-21.

On Brevard's next drive, Nathan Stockton came up with a 28-yard gain to set the Blue Devils up inside Chase's 10-yard line. That was all Rathbone needed, as he scored his fourth TD of the night from five yards out.

The Trojans blocked the PAT, leaving the score 27-21 with 4:17 left in the first half.

On the next drive, Brevard forced Chase into its first punt of the night, and after taking over at their own 42, the Blue Devils made the most of the opportunity.

A 37-yard run from Rathbone put Brevard on the edge of the red zone.

The Blue Devils plugged away on the ground, with Rathbone eventually cashing in from four yards out to mark his fifth TD of the game.

Grant drilled the PAT, giving Brevard a 37-21 halftime lead.

The Trojans had a disastrous start to the second half, fumbling the ball away at their own 32-yard line on the opening kickoff. Brevard took advantage, as Swicegood connected with Whitesides in the end zone for a 6-yard TD pass.

The Blue Devils opened up a 41-21 lead after the PAT.

Things didn't get much better for the visitors on the next drive, as Harris came up with an interception to give Brevard the ball at their own 22.

The Blue Devils put together another lengthy drive, culminating in fourth-and-short at the Trojans' 8-yard line, but the Chase defense held, getting the turnover on downs.

Brevard's defense responded, forcing a three-and-out to get possession back at Chase's 35 with 1:11 to go in the third quarter following a short punt.

As the game entered the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils faced third-and-14 at the 25. Swicegood rolled to his left, bought some time and delivered a pass to Whitesides, who made a nice play coming back to the ball for the catch and shed a defender for the score.

Grant's PAT opened up a 48-21 lead with 11:22 to play.

Chase started to move the ball on their next drive, but the Blue Devils forced a fumble and recovered at the 32.

The Trojans got one more scoring chance later in the game after a snap on a punt attempt sailed over Joe Powell's head. But Keishon Couch broke up a pass attempt in the end zone on fourth down.

After taking over possession, Stockton reeled off a 53-yard run to flip the field and give Brevard the chance to run out the clock for the win.

For the first 17 minutes, the two sides were dead even, but as the night wore on the Blue Devils' physicality on both sides of the ball became evident.

It was vintage mountain football and it was exactly what Pritchett wanted to see.

"This is our brand of football," he said. "We want to put the ball in our backs' hands and wear teams down with our offensive line. We want to be a physical football team and our guys really rose to the challenge tonight."

The Trojans scored on three of their first four possessions, and gashed Brevard's defense early on. But after making some adjustments, and getting a key stop midway through the second quarter, Chase never found that rhythm in the second half.

"We tried a few things a little different on defense in the first half. In the second half, we went back to our comfort zone and let our guys play fast. It was a good night for the defense. The second half really showed what they can do," Pritchett said.

The win sets up one of the most highly anticipated rematches in recent memory, as Brevard returns to Reidsville this Friday for the third round of the playoffs.

The Blue Devils and Rams met in last year's 2A semifinal, with Reidsville using a late turnover in the fourth quarter to score the go-ahead TD in a 24-21 victory.

One week later, Reidsville lifted a state championship trophy.

It's sure to be another classic battle between two celebrated programs and Pritchett said he's looking forward to his team embracing the challenge of taking on the defending state champion in their house.

"Reidsville has a great team and our kids are excited. We get another chance to go on the road and go against one of the best teams in the state. Hopefully, we can make a name for ourselves to get us back in that conversation as one of the top teams. We get to go back to work and we get to practice on Thanksgiving again. It's an exciting time," Pritchett said.

Baxter Swicegood had a solid night passing and running, finishing with a pair of TD passes and some big gains on the ground.


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