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Brookwood, Bryant roll up big numbers as Panthers get first win


Paul W. Bryant’s Joe Pradat (10) is tackled by Ladarius Smith (80) on Friday night. (Photo by Erin Nelson)


BROOKWOOD | For two teams that looked offensively challenged last week, Brookwood and Paul W. Bryant had no trouble moving the ball Friday night.

The teams combined for 752 yards of total offense, but needing just 7 more yards to take the lead late in the game, the Stampede (0-3, 0-2 Class 5A, Region 5) could not get them. The Panthers (1-1, 1-1) held strong, forcing three straight incomplete passes before running out the clock in a 34-30 win.

“We just didn’t execute down the stretch,” Paul Bryant coach Errol Jones said. “We’ve got a young team and we’re still growing. But we’ve got to learn how to finish.”

It looked as if the Stampede had taken the lead on a 7-yard run by Tyler Slayton (12 carries, 140 yards, TD) with just under three minutes remaining. But an illegal shift penalty erased the score and forced Bryant to try again. But the Brookwood defense, which was maligned after its performance last week against Fairfield, stepped up big, pressuring Bryant quarterback Joe Pradat (180 passing yards, TD) into some tough throws.

“At practice, Coach (Ricky Bush) always talks about getting to the ball,” said defensive lineman Jed Green, who had 10 tackles and a sack. “Our defense did a great job. We got the stop at the goal line and it won the game for us.”

 

The game got off to an ominous start for Brookwood. On the first play from scrimmage, Justin Carter fumbled the ball and it was picked up by Carlton Robertson, who returned it 27 yards for a score to give Bryant an early 6-0 advantage.

 

The Panthers had trouble holding on to the ball all night, fumbling six times and losing three of them.

“I didn’t know if we were ever going to hold on to the football tonight,” Bush said. “We didn’t do a good job protecting it.”

But the turnovers were just a footnote in a high-powered scoring affair. Even as blown transformers were knocking out lights during the middle portion of the ballgame, both teams were able to keep the scoreboard aglow.

Bryant led 16-12 at halftime after Christopher Moore-Odum returned a punt 65 yards for a score late in the second quarter. But after a safety, Carter (14 carries, 102 yards) redeemed himself with a 67-yard touchdown run that put Brookwood on top 20-16.

The teams continued to trade touchdowns until Brookwood quarterback Seth Franks, who threw for 198 yards and two touchdowns, scored on a 1-yard plunge with 6:28 remaining to give the Panthers the lead for good.