For one half of football, the Braden River High and Booker High football teams were equals in a slugfest, each giving as good as they got.
With explosive plays galore, the teams went into halftime tied at 21. It appeared that the fireworks would continue in the second half when Booker scored on its first play of the third quarter — an 82-yard pass from senior quarterback Will Carter Jr. to senior Omarion Patterson — and Braden River responded with a long drive capped by a four yard touchdown run by junior running back Trayvon Pinder.
It turned out that the Carter-to-Patterson bomb was Booker's final blow, but Braden River landed a few more, resulting in a 42-28 win in front of a loud home crowd.
All of Booker's touchdowns came on big plays. Carter threw three touchdown passes: two to junior Josiah Booker in addition to Patterson's score. All three touchdowns were more than 50 yards. The Tornadoes also scored when sophomore linebacker Dajien Walton scooped a Braden River fumble and returned it for a touchdown. But in the second half, the explosive played died up as the Tornadoes attempted to get their running game going and were unable to put together prolonged drives.
Meanwhile, Braden River's offense hummed consistently in the hands of sophomore quarterback Lucas Despot. Despot was playing in place of junior Nick Trier, who battled a sickness throughout the week and was held out because of missed practice time. Despot completed six of his nine passes for 141 yards and three touchdowns, all to junior tight end Cody Kawcak. Pirates senior Roy Burchett and junior Trayvon Pinder acted as a strong running back tandem, rushing for 160 and 152 yards respectively. Pinder had three touchdowns.
Braden River Head Coach Curt Bradley took the blame for Booker's early passing explosion and credited his defensive staff for making the necessary adjustments in the second half.
“We weren’t ready to play (at the start) tonight," Bradley said. "It’s not typically how we play. We don’t usually give up a lot of big plays. I’ll take that one. We’ve got to get our guys ready to play in practice."
Bradley was also complimentary of Despot's performance, stepping into an unexpected situation and doing what was asked of him.
Booker Head Coach Scottie Littles was pleased with how his team threw the ball and in retrospect was disappointed that the team leaned heavier on the running game in the second half. He was also disappointed by his team's ability to cover Kawcak over the middle. But Littles remains confident in his team's talent and capacity to get better.
"I'd hate to play us in week eight, week nine," Littles said. "I'd hate to see us (on the schedule) when we finally figure it out.
"It’s growing pains. It’s learning moments. The future is bright."