The Braden River High defense forced six turnovers to propel the Pirates to a 31-14 victory over Southeast Sept. 13.
It was the first time in school history that the Pirates (2-0) had beaten the Seminoles.
“A win is a win and we’ll take it,” Braden River coach Curt Bradley says. “Our kids had an opportunity to do something this week that’s never been done and they stepped up to the plate. They took advantage of it and experienced something great because of it.
“We haven’t been able to impose our will on anyone since I’ve been here, and we were kind of able to do that today,” Bradley says. “We kind of wore them out.”
After muffing the opening kickoff, Braden River fell behind 7-0 on Courtney Allen’s 5-yard touchdown run 36 seconds into the game.
Braden River responded midway through the first quarter on Titus Humphrey’s 8-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7.
Braden River took the lead early in the second quarter after the Pirates defense forced a fumble at the Southeast 22-yard line. Three plays later quarterback Dusty Peebles connected with wide receiver Justin Ross for a 20-yard touchdown.
On the Seminoles ensuing possession, Braden River defensive back Zach Maugherman intercepted the ball deep in its own territory to stifle Southeast’s drive.
The Pirates extended their lead 11 plays later when Humphrey found the end zone from 13 yards out to give Braden River a 21-7 lead with 4 minutes, 17 seconds remaining in the first half.
Braden River kicker Austin Myara hit a 23-yard field goal with 2:48 remaining in the third quarter to extend the Pirates lead to 24-7.
Braden River linebacker Marcus Balliette intercepted Jack Shinn on Southeast’s ensuing possession to set up Peebles’ 1-yard touchdown run with 31.1 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
“Our defense this year will never give up,” Balliette says. “Last year, seven points down we might’ve quit, but this year we just kept grinding it out. Turnovers are the biggest part of defense.”
Southeast found the end zone on Allen’s 13-yard touchdown run with 9:03 left in regulation, but that’s as close as the Seminoles would come.
“It’s a long football game and they stayed the course and just kept fighting,” Bradley says. “You can’t lose the game on the first play that’s for sure.
“Our kids just fight,” Bradley says. “That’s all they’ve known how to do. They just fight and that’s all you can ask for. I’m so proud of them.”
Braden River opens district action Sept. 20 versus rival Lakewood Ranch.
“Momentum is a good thing,” Bradley says. “We’re healthy. We get to go home with some momentum and hopefully have a good fan base turnout next week. It’s districts. This is where we’ve got to be, and hopefully we’re building this thing in the right direction.”
Contact Jen Blanco at firstname.lastname@example.org.