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Briarwood remains perfect in region play

By CAYDEN STURGES | Special to the Reporter

NORTH SHELBY – Both sides of the ball were clicking for the Briarwood Lions on Friday, Sept. 18, as the Lions put together a balanced attack to remain perfect in region play with a 28-16 victory against Huffman.

With the win, the Lions improved to 4-1 overall and 3-0 in region play to stay tied atop the standings with No. 1 Mountain Brook.

“We have a bend don’t break mentality,” Briarwood head coach Matthew Forester said after the win. “They were able to drive at times tonight, but we were able to tighten up in the red zone and just break on the ball. We had several big interceptions. Seth Alford and Alastair Harris both did a great job.”

That first big defensive play came early in the game too. On Huffman’s second play from scrimmage, disaster struck for the Vikings.

They attempted a pass to the flat, but the ball was overthrown and landed incomplete around the 16-yard line. While most of the players began to return to their respective huddles, Tyler Waugh recognized that the play hadn’t yet been whistled dead and scooped the live ball off the ground.

Waugh was 5 yards away from the nearest Huffman defender and was able to walk into the end zone.

After a brief huddle, the officials determined that the throw was indeed an incomplete backwards pass which meant the play resulted in a fumble and touchdown. Waugh’s awareness gave the Lions an early 7-0 lead in a game where points were at a premium.

Then a defensive battle ensued for a while.

Both defenses played very well in the first quarter and throughout the game. In fact, the first seven drives ended in either a punt or turnover.

That change on the first play of the second quarter. On a drive setup by a Harris interception, Peyton Steed took the ball on fourth-and-goal and stepped right into a small lane made by his left tackle to score the first offensive points in this defensive showdown.

Huffman was quick to respond on the next drive. The Vikings rattled off 3 quick passes over the middle before they found themselves with a first-and-goal.

Makhi Hughes was given the ball on a toss around the left side. While the Lions’ defense read the play very well, Hughes wouldn’t be denied. Hughes ran over three defenders before diving for the pylon to score. After a successful 2-point conversion, Briarwood only led 14-8.

Briarwood, however, was able to respond quickly on the ensuing drive. Christopher Vizzina found Nic Dicen open along the hash for a 40-yard gain. A few plays later, running back Luke Reebals took the ball around the left end.

Reebals was drilled by a Vikings’ defender at the 1-yard line, but managed to fall forward across the goal line to put his team up 21-8 after the extra point.

The teams exchanged more three-and-outs up until the last drive of the half. Cohen Luker and Holden Patterson were able to clog any rushing lanes in the middle before a running back could run through them. The linebackers were able to pressure the quarterback whenever he dropped back to pass.

Huffman tried to execute the perfect two-minute drill to get within the Lions’ 10-yard line late in the first half. In the final seconds, Seth Alford made an incredible defensive play for Briarwood.

Alford recognized that he was on an island in man coverage. He high pointed the ball and was able to intercept it. This interception surely stole at least three points away from the Vikings right before the half.

In the second half, both defenses were still dominant. Both offenses were forced to punt to start the half. Once Huffman began to put together a few first downs on their second drive, Harris jumped in front of an underthrown pass for his second interception of the night.

The turnover was able to set up a beautiful 55-yard touchdown pass from Vizzina to Brooks Donnelly that sealed the game.

The Lions were able to hold onto the three-possession lead until the fourth quarter when Huffman was able to score on 4th-and-goal. The Lions still went on to win 28-16.

While both defenses played well, the Lions were able to force five turnovers. Huffman was averaging 34 points per game before being held to only 16 in this one.

Vizzina finished the game with 137 yards and a touchdown on 11-of-18 passing, while Reebals run for 99 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.

Briarwood travels to McAdory next week to take on the 1-4 Yellow Jackets.

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