CLAXTON—Special teams became the deciding factor for Bryan County’s (6-2, 2-2) 13-12 win over the Claxton Tigers (4-4, 1-4). Sophomore kicker Ty Wilson would hit a pair of field goals from 28 and 15 yards to give the Redskins the edge.
“We thought special teams would be big for us. I thought we had the edge there, and if it came down to it, we would win that battle, and, it did come down to it,” said Bryan County coach Ron Lewis.
Bryan County came out strong with a six minute 48-yard drive to open the game, lead by junior running back Nick Scott. The Redskins offense would stall at the 18-yard line setting up Wilson with a 28-yard field goal, giving the Skins a 3-0 lead.
After giving Bryan County’s offense a spark, Claxton’s defense rose to the challenge and silenced the Skins for the rest of the half.
With 9:52 in the second quarter, Claxton began a 69-yard touchdown drive behind the pads of sophomore Khalil Brewton. Brewton carried the ball seven times on the drive, and caught the play action touchdown pass from senior quarterback Michael Peel from one yard out.
Claxton’s field goal unit continued its struggles for the year, missing the point after attempt, leaving the score for the half at 6-3.
The Tigers offense opened the second half with the same intensity they ended with in the first, driving the ball 80-yards down the field. On the drive, Brewton broke a dive for 47-yards putting Claxton inside the ten-yard line.
Inside the red zone however, the Red Skin defense met the Claxton ground game with no sympathy, stopping the Tigers short on four consecutive plays.
“Our defense played great all year, and they fly after the ball. They may get a few penalties here and there because they get after it, but that’s the way we practice,” said Lewis.
Claxton’s defense remained strong, forcing Bryan County to punt out of their own end zone giving the Tigers the ball at midfield.
On the drive however, the Tigers would lose their work horse, Brewton, for the game to a leg injury, pushing the Tigers to turn to their passing game. The drive quickly stalled and Claxton was forced to punt.
With 3:00 on the clock, the quarterback Timothy Strickland connected with sophomore Damian Dixon on a 15-yard strike for a 85-yard touchdown pass. Wilson tacked on the extra point.
Bryan County continued their ground assault for the remainder of the third, carrying the drive on into the fourth. Racking up five first downs, the Skins offense set up Wilson for a 15-yard field goal giving them a seven point lead with 4:14 remaining to play.
Down 13-6, the Tigers turned to Peel and the passing game for an answer. Peel connected four times with three different receivers on the drive pushing Claxton inside the five. With a shot up the gut, Shavez Mincey punched in the touchdown from one yard out, bringing the Tigers within one.
Rushing the offense back onto the field, the Tigers dropped back into the shotgun for a two point conversion. Immediately after the snap, Peel was chased from the pocket by Redskins making him throw on the run. Tossing up a prayer to the corner of the end zone, Peel’s pass drifted out of bounds sealing the victory for the Redskins.
“Our field goal kicker [Mincey] injured his ankle, but our percentages on kicking field goals have been bad. We just felt that our chances were better to go for two and go for the win rather than taking a chance with a field goal,” said Claxton coach Allen Cartwright.
Next week, both teams hit the road as Claxton travels to Metter in a battle of the Tigers, and Bryan County will meet up with first place the Savannah Christian Raiders.