The Transylvania Times -

Blue Devils Come Up Short In 8-6 Loss Against Cougars


Last updated 3/1/2021 at 4:31pm

Junior quarterback Joe Powell finished 13-of-27 for 164 yards and one touchdown in his starting debut against the Cougars.

It was a night of missed opportunities for Brevard, as the Blue Devils dropped their season opener 8-6 against Mountain Heritage on a soggy Friday night.

Brevard forced five turnovers and started six drives inside the Cougars' 30-yard line, but between miscues on offense and a slew of penalties, the Blue Devils couldn't cash in on those chances.

Neither side ever got much momentum offensively, and, in the end, a failed two-point conversion was all that separated the two teams.

The game started with three straight turnovers –– two by the Cougars and one by Brevard.

Following an interception by Sammy Kessinger that set the Blue Devils up at Mountain Heritage 23-yard line, it looked like Brevard was in business.

A third down run by Garrett Swicegood got the ball to the 11, but on the next play Nathan Stockton left the game with an ankle injury following a rush, and Brevard was flagged for holding, moving the ball back to the 20.

The Blue Devils moved back inside the 5-yard line on fourth down, but the field goal attempt was off the mark.

The Cougars finally got on the board on the final drive of the first half after taking over at the Blue Devils' 43-yard line.

After slowly inching closer to the goal line, Kason Hall plowed in for the touchdown from 1 yard out and was the recipient of a playaction pass for the two-point conversion moments later to put Mountain Heritage up 8-0 at halftime.

Swicegood gave Brevard a jolt entering the second half with a big kickoff return near midfield. However, the drive sputtered out behind a false start penalty and a second-down sack on quarterback Joe Powell.

On the ensuing possession, Brevard got its third turnover of the game courtesy of a bad snap and took over at the Cougars' 29-yard line.

But after moving the ball inside the red zone, a 3-yard loss on a handoff, followed by a false start penalty, put the Blue Devils behind the chains, and the Cougars forced three straight incompletions to regain possession.

That possession didn't last long, as Brevard forced, and recovered, a fumble moments later to take over at the Mountain Heritage 24-yard line.

This time, the Blue Devils cashed in, as Powell connected with Chris Conner over the middle on a fourth-down completion to move the ball to the 2-yard line.

Brevard didn't make it easy, as another false start penalty followed by a loss of two on a handoff backed things up to the 9-yard line. But the Blue Devils found the end zone as Powell scrambled to his right and found Swicegood on the far sideline for six.

Brevard went for two, trying to tie things up, and Powell went to Swicegood again, but the pass was just beyond his reach, leaving the Blue Devils trailing 8-6 with 2:30 left in the third quarter.

The Blue Devil defense continued to hold strong, forcing another turnover on a third-down interception to set Brevard up at their own 29-yard line.

The offense went to work, as Powell connected with Jaylen Carver and Swicegood kept up his work on the ground to move inside Cougar territory.

After a pair of completions to Conner and Kyle Lovett, as well as run from Swicegood, the Blue Devils were in striking distance, with a first down at the 7.

Swicegood followed that up with a run that would have set Brevard up at the goal line. However, a costly holding penalty moved the ball back to the 14 and stalled the drive.

The Blue Devils opted for the field goal attempt, but the kick was incomplete.

Brevard's defense held once again, and the Blue Devils got the ball back at their own 34-yard line with 4:30 to play.

Powell kept the offense going with a completion to Conner over the middle, but following another completion moments later, the ball came loose and the Cougars took over their own 43-yard line.

The Blue Devils came up with another stop and got the ball back for one last shot, taking over possession with no timeouts right at midfield with 1:30 to play.

Facing fourth-and-10, Powell connected with Conner once again for a 19-yard gain to the 30.

After spiking the ball to stop the clock, Brevard was left with 30 seconds on the clock.

After a second-down incompletion, Powell scrambled in the backfield before ultimately being sacked, leaving no options other than a hectic last-second heave.

Brevard managed to get the play off, but the pass fell to the turf amidst the chaos as the Blue Devils suffered a painful defeat.

It was a game the home side will feel was theirs to win, but between penalties and other errors, the Blue Devils couldn't get it done.

"This was obviously a sloppy game, but there were some good things," said head coach Craig Pritchett after the loss. "This first game is always about us to see where we're at and what we have to work on. It was unfortunate to lose a great player like Nathan early in the game and have to change some things up. We asked the guys to battle all the way to the end and they did that. We had our chances, we just couldn't quite pull it off."

Neither side moved the ball with much consistency, but the Blue Devil offense did find success in the second half.

Powell finished 13-of-27 for 164 yards and one touchdown, with Conner coming up with 11 grabs for 74 yards.

Swicegood paced Brevard on the ground with 11 carries for 79 yards.

Garrett Swicegood led Brevard with 79 rushing yards after the loss of starting running back Nathan Stockton. (Times photos by Jeremiah Reed)

Penalties in key moments were a major problem for Brevard, as the Blue Devils finished with 10 penalties that cost 70 yards. The wet conditions didn't make things any easier. Brevard finished the game with three turnovers on the night.

"We had some snaps on the ground, some snaps off key. We had some turnovers. Penalties were a big part of it. You can't be successful against a team like Mountain Heritage making those mistakes," Pritchett said.

With only the one non-conference game, the Blue Devils have this week off before jumping into five straight weeks of Mountain Six competition, beginning with a road contest against East Henderson, who lost 28-14 to North Henderson.

That leaves the Blue Devils with 10 days to fix those mistakes as they try to repeat as conference champions.

"We have to focus on fixing us and just get ready for a good conference run," Pritchett said.


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