The Transylvania Times -

Reidsville Wins The Rematch, Defeats Blue Devils 24-7

 

Last updated 12/2/2019 at 3:18pm

John Pickford's big reception in the first quarter helped set up the Blue Devils' opening score. The senior finished with a pair of catches on the night, but Brevard's offense was shut out in the second half.

Despite scoring the game's opening touchdown, the Brevard Blue Devils' playoff run came to an end at the hands of the Reidsville Rams on Friday, as Brevard lost 24-7.

For most of the night, the game had the feel of last year's semifinal. The Blue Devils trailed 10-7 after three quarters, but the Rams' offense came alive in the fourth, particularly through the air, as they scored an insurance TD before icing the game with a late score.

There was no lack of fight, as Brevard stayed in the game to the end, but between an athletic receiving corps and some timely defensive stops Reidsville proved to be too much.

"I'm proud of the way our guys came out of the gates," said Blue Devil head coach Craig Pritchett. "We took it to them for three quarters. It got a little sloppy at the end – and I take the blame for some of that. I hate that it ends this way, but it's been a great year and a great body of work for the senior class going out. I wish I could change the end result, but it was a tough night for us."

Reidsville tested Brevard's defense early, but the Blue Devils came up with a stop on fourth-and-short on the Rams' first possession before eating up a third-down screen pass to force a punt on the next drive.

After starting at their 6-yard line, Brevard's offense went to work.

A completion from Baxter Swicegood to Marshawn Jackson moved the chains to the 20 before another completion to Joe Powell picked up 13 yards.

Brevard kept going to the air, and scored a huge gain on a completion over the middle to John Pickford. After a horse-collar tackle tacked on 15 extra yards, the Blue Devils were at the Rams' 12-yard line.

A carry from Swicegood to the near edge set up first-and-goal before Isaiah Rathbone followed his linemen into the end zone for the opening score.

Parker Grant knocked down the PAT to give Brevard a 7-0 lead with 47 seconds left in the first quarter.

On the next drive, Reidsville quarterback Kyle Pinnix started giving Brevard fits with his arm and his mobility in the pocket.

The junior scrambled for a first down into Blue Devil territory before Reidsville picked up 10 yards on a screen pass to move the ball to Brevard's 36.

However, a penalty put the home side behind the chains and the Blue Devils forced another turnover on downs on fourth-and-10.

On the ensuing drive, Brevard kept the ball on the ground and in the hands of Nathan Stockton.

The sophomore chipped away at three and four yards a clip, eventually setting up third-and-two at Reidsville's 36.

The Blue Devils went for the deep ball, with Swicegood looking for Anjel Whitesides over the middle. But the pass came up short and the Rams picked it off at their 21-yard line.

That proved to spark the offense, as Reidsville picked up the pace. A quick screen pass went for 19 yards before Pinnix scrambled for a 12-yard gain later in the drive to put the ball at Brevard's 40.

The Rams kept moving, converting on third-and-10 and fourth-and-one to move inside the red zone.

Facing first-and-15 at the 19 following a penalty, the Rams' Lionel Long broke free and took it to the house.

The PAT tied things up at 7-7 with 2:46 to go in the opening half.

Brevard responded, with Swicegood reeling off a 25-yard run on the first play to move into Rams' territory. Moments later, the Blue Devils faced fourth-and-inches at the 26-yard line.

Brevard elected to go for it, but Rathbone was swallowed up in the backfield.

With 1:14 to go, the Rams went to their basket of tricks and deployed a pass from a wide receiver that draw a pass interference flag on Brevard.

Reidsville continued to use quick passes to big up yards in a hurry, and another pass interference penalty on Brevard set things up at the 7-yard line with 3.5 seconds to play.

The Rams' kicker stepped on and did his job, giving Reidsville a 10-7 halftime lead.

Brevard got the second-half kickoff, starting at their 33, and put together their most balanced drive of the night, picking up five first downs and taking nearly nine minutes off the clock.

However, faced with another fourth-down situation at the 13-yard line, Brevard came up empty, as Swicegood was dropped in the backfield, giving Reidsville the ball at their 7 with 3:10 to go in the third quarter after a dead-ball penalty.

Brevard held the Rams in check, and got the ball back at midfield following a punt. But the drive went nowhere, giving Reidsville the ball at their 19 as the game entered the fourth quarter.

The Rams started hot, picking up a 27-yard run on first down before another carry moved the ball to Brevard's 23.

Reidsville also began utilizing their skill players on the perimeter, opting for quick screens and slant passes that the Blue Devils struggled to contain.

The Rams continued the drive all the way inside Brevard's 5-yard line before scoring from two yards out.

The PAT made the score 17-7 with 7:19 to play.

Unfortunately, the offense couldn't flip the switch on the next drive, and a fake punt attempt came up empty, giving Reidsville the ball at Brevard's 30 with 6:00 to play.

The Rams continued to take advantage of their outside matchups, and scored two minutes later to make it 24-7 and put things out of reach.

It was game that hinged on a few key moments.

Reidsville had a pair of first-half fumbles that they were lucky enough to corral and came up with two huge fourth-down stops on the night.

For Brevard, despite a great drive to open the second half, they couldn't get any points on the board, and the Rams' defense shut them down the rest of the night.

Moving the ball wasn't a problem for the Blue Devils, as they finished with 222 total yards.

However, the drives seemed to stall just outside the Rams' red zone most of the night.

Reidsville had a noticeable advantage in speed, and Pritchett said when the field shrank on their end, they were able to use that speed to bottle up Brevard's offense.

"When the field started getting a little smaller, I think their speed took away some of the holes we were creating and, unfortunately, we couldn't get the points," he said.

Isaiah Rathbone handled the brunt of the work on the ground for Brevard, scoring the Blue Devils' lone TD of the night with just under one minute to play in the first quarter. (Times photos by Jeremiah Reed)

The loss ends Brevard's year at 11-3. The Blue Devils won 11 games for the second year in a row and have logged double-digit victories in three of the past four seasons.

But there was plenty of emotion in the postgame huddle as the road came to an end for the Class of 2020.

Pritchett commended his team, particularly the 19 seniors, for their work, not just this year, but over the past several seasons as the Blue Devils have rebuilt and re-emerged as a program to be reckoned with down the road.

"I'm very thankful and blessed to have worked with such a great group of guys. They worked hard for four years. They've made the third round of the playoffs in back-to-back years and there will be a huge hole when they leave just like every year with a senior class. I wish I could give them a better note to end on, but I want them to hold their heads high with their chests out because they've brought this program back to where it is," Pritchett said.

 
 

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