Brunswick High School football coach Darrell Owens said before the season that how quickly his younger players developed would play a big role in how successful his young team could be this season.
With the game on the line in the second half in Lawrenceville on Thursday night, some of those younger players stepped up and then his seniors took over late as Troy Duncan hit Jaheim Hicks with an 83-yard over-the-shoulder bomb and the speedster took it to the house as Brunswick earned a thrilling 26-25 win over Southampton HS.
The victory improved Brunswick to 3-1 overall and improved them to 1-1 in the Tri-Rivers District while Southampton fell to 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the district.
“They learned it takes all of them,” a jubilant Coach Owens said after the contest when asked what his players had learned from the game. “Southampton is a big team. We just had to outwork them and it took all of them to do it.”
Owens said his team had worked on their two-minute offense for the first time earlier in the week and it was executed perfectly on the game-winning drive.
Owens gave a shutout to sophomore Jayden Tucker, Brunswick’s sophomore backup quarterback, who came on in the third quarter and led the Bulldogs on a scoring drive to get them back into the game.
“He walked out and led us,” Owens said. “The last time he played quarterback, he was in middle school.”
The Bulldogs received the opening kickoff and picked up one first down before the drive stalled and Brunswick had to punt.
The defense set the tone on their first play from scrimmage when Brunswick forced a fumble and the Bulldogs’ Aaron Moore came up with the recovery.
Brunswick picked up one first down to move to midfield and then Duncan hooked up with Hicks to move into the Southampton redzone.
Zyear Puryear and Hicks then took the ball the rest of the way on the ground as Puryear scored on a 2-yard touchdown run. Duncan hit Moore with a 2-point conversion pass to give Brunswick an 8-0 lead at the 3:13 mark of the first quarter.
Southampton took over at the 35-yard line to start their next drive and moved to midfield but a fumble was recovered by Brunswick’s Ca’Liyahl Owen.
The Brunswick offense went back to work as Duncan picked up 17-yards on a run and then hooked up with Moore on a 14-yard pass completion to move into the Indians’ redzone.
Four plays later, Duncan hit Moore with an 11-yard touchdown pass to give Brunswick a 14-0 lead at the 8:20 mark of the second quarter.
Following a short kickoff by Brunswick, Southampton came up with the next big play as Alvin Hicks, Jr., scored on a 45-yard touchdown run to cut the Bulldogs lead to 14-6 at the 8:11 mark.
The Indians came up with an interception two minutes later and went back to work as Jimmie Reed scored on a 29-yard touchdown run but the Bulldogs were able to stop the 2-point conversion run to cling to a 14-12 lead at the 4:06 mark of the second quarter.
Following a Brunswick punt, the Bulldogs got the ball back late in the first half when Hicks picked off a Southampton pass with under 20 seconds left to play.
The Bulldogs tried several pass plays but were content to take a 14-12 lead to the halftime break.
Southampton took the second half kickoff and drove down to the Brunswick 4-yard line but the Bulldogs defense delivered a big hit and Brunswick’s Joseph Green came up with a fumble recovery.
Two straight penalties against the Bulldogs backed Brunswick up to their 3-yard line. Faced with fourth-and-long from their 1-yard line, the Bulldogs’ punt attempt was blocked by Southampton in the endzone and recovered for a touchdown to give the visitors an 18-14 lead at the 7:49 mark of the third quarter.
Unable to get anything going on their next series, Brunswick punted and Southampton took advantage of good field position to get into the endzone again on a 5-yard touchdown run by Zaquon Walton. The PAT gave the Indians a 25-14 lead with 3:40 left in the third quarter.
Brunswick sophomore quarterback Jayden Tucker came into the game on the next offensive series and completed a 12-yard pass to Moore and an 18-yard pass completion to Hicks. Following a 15-yard personal foul penalty against Southampton, the Bulldogs answered when Puryear scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to cut the Southampton lead to 25-20 with 11:56 left to play in the game.
After the two teams exchanged punts, Southampton picked up two first downs but Coach Owens used his three timeouts to stop the clock and the Brunswick defense came up with a stop on fourth-and-4 with 1:12 left to play.
Duncan hit Hicks with a 6-yard pass completion on the next play from scrimmage and then hit him on the visitors sideline with a bomb that Hicks pulled in and outran the Southampton secondary for the 83-yard touchdown and a 26-25 lead.
Southampton was able to complete two passes to get near midfield on their final offensive drive but the last heave of the game fell incomplete as Brunswick celebrated the big victory.
Passing yds…………………193 53
Brunswick Rushing – Puryear 17-20, Hicks 9-28, Duncan 6-26, Team 1-(-8), Tucker 1-(-3), Owen 1-0. Passing – Duncan 9-17-1-163; Tucker 2-4-0-30. Receiving – Hicks 3-107, No. 11 2-18, Moore 3-37, Puryear 2-11.