The Pirates' comeback effort fell short in a 28-21 loss
For the third-consecutive season, the Braden River High football team's season ended in Venice.
The Pirates fell 28-21 to rival Venice High. It is the team's sixth-straight loss to the Indians overall, and like those previous losses, this game came down to the final minute.
In the first quarter, it appeared Venice was on its way to blowing out the Pirates. The Indians scored on their first drive, a 6-yard touchdown run from Nico DallaCosta, to take a 7-0 lead. Venice senior safety Noah Carr then picked off a pass from Pirates senior quarterback Bryan Gagg and returned it for a touchdown to make it 14-0. After forcing the Pirates to punt, Venice again drove down the field, punctuating the first quarter with a five-yard touchdown run by Mike Trapani.
With three quarters to go, Venice led 21-0. The Pirates could have packed it in after that, but coach Curt Bradley's team instead attempted a seismic comeback. Gagg found senior wideout Clyde Townsend for a five-yard score to make it 21-7, and the Pirates got a goal line stand from their defense heading into halftime to keep it a two-score game. They got another goal line stand early in the third quarter, keeping their hopes alive.
Facing a fourth down and nine, Gagg found junior tight end Travis Tobey for a 32-yard touchdown to get within 21-14. The Indians answered with a 32-yard touchdown pass of their own, from senior quarterback Hayden Wolff to Carr, to make it 28-14 heading into the fourth quarter.
Gagg found Tobey to convert a fourth and 17 midway through the fourth quarter, setting up a goal line touchdown run from junior Brian Battie. The Pirates, down just seven points, came alive on the sideline. Then the Braden River defense got a stop, and it offense got the ball back with 3:20 left from its own 17 yard line. The Pirates got past midfield before penalties and sacks left them in a bad position. A Gagg desperation pass with 11 seconds left was intercepted, and the game ended 28-21.
Bradley said his players "fought their tails off" and added he never doubted they would make it a competitive game despite the lopsided early score. Bradley said the early mistakes were ultimately too much to overcome.