By Shirley Shuman
Thursday night’s football game against arch rival Clay gave Braxton fans another reason to celebrate Homecoming. Braxton defeated Clay 26-16 in a hard-fought battle through most of the game. Braxton’s win came despite what Braxton Coach James King thought was Clay’s plan to control time of possession. Actually, the Clay team did have a huge advantage there. Coach King said Clay had the ball 23 and one-half minutes of the 32 minute game time.
The beginning of the game did not look good for either team. Braxton kicked off, and Clay fumbled on the return. Braxton recovered the fumble, but on their first offensive play, they fumbled, and Clay regained possession. This time Clay methodically drove downfield to a first-and-goal. Braxton stopped the Clay squad on fourth down, but a penalty on Braxton gave Clay four more tries, and they scored. The conversion was good, and Clay led 8-0.
After that, Coach King pointed out, he saw “better ball” from his players. Bryson Moats returned the ensuing kickoff to midfield. On the first play from scrimmage, Logan Payne took the handoff from Landon Mays and raced downfield for the touchdown. The conversion failed, but the Knights had points on the board.
Clay had possession to begin the second quarter and ran the ball, killing the clock, until they drove down to the10-yard line. To score, they ran a double-pass play which gave them a second touchdown. A successful conversion put them ahead 16-6 with a little more than a minute left in the half.
After Clay’s kickoff, the Knights once again had the ball around midfield. Two plays into their possession, Payne repeated his first touchdown run. The conversion failed again. Braxton kicked off, but Clay had no return. On this possession they went three-and-out. A short punt gave the Knights the ball on the 43. Mayes threw four straight completions but Braxton did not get into the end zone. Halftime saw Clay up 16-12.
Coach King referred to this game as “the tale of two halves,” as his defense came out of the locker room ready to do their job. Clay kicked off but the ball went out of bounds. Braxton took the penalty and started their possession on the 35. On the first play of the second half, Payne took the handoff and raced downfield into the end zone to give the home team their first lead of the game. The remainder of the third quarter saw no scoring.
In the fourth quarter, Clay had problems moving the ball and Braxton’s defense actually drove them backwards on some possessions. Two of Braxton’s possessions ended unsuccessfully. Then Clay, deciding to go for it on fourth down, tried to throw the ball across the field but it fell incomplete. That play gave the Knights the ball on Clay’s 30 yard line. On first down, Jackson Lewis raced into the end zone untouched.
On Braxton’s kickoff, Clay fumbled, and Jason Sleigher fell on the ball to give the Knights possession. At that point, the Knights’ coaches sent in the second team, and they played the rest of the game…and their coach indicated they played well.
Coach King had much to say about this win, which put his team at 5-0 and guaranteed a place in the playoffs. “Anytime you get a win against a rival, it’s a great game. When it’s a battle to the end and you still win, it’s special, a memory my student athletes will have forever,” he said. I could not be any happier for my team. Hats off to my assistant coaches. They had everyone well-prepared this week. Proud of them, too.”
The Knights played Ravenswood Wednesday night, and next week they play at Summersville. The playoffs start after that.
Turn to page 10 for additional BCMS Homecoming coverage.