DAILY LEADER / SHERYLYN EVANS / Brookhaven Academy quarterback Heath Hickman (14) sweeps out of the pocket to create some passing room as Simpson defenders, Tyler Luckey (51) and Austin Burney (33), hustle in for a tackle Friday night.
DAILY LEADER / SHERYLYN EVANS / Brookhaven Academy quarterback Heath Hickman (14) sweeps out of the pocket to create some passing room as Simpson defenders, Tyler Luckey (51) and Austin Burney (33), hustle in for a tackle Friday night.

Second half lifts Simpson over BA

Published 12:05am Sunday, November 3, 2013

Going into the first round of the MAIS AA playoffs, the Brookhaven Academy Cougars knew quite well the tall order at hand traveling to Mendenhall to face the top seed and No. 1-ranked Simpson Academy Cougars.

BA Coach Tripp McCarty commented prior to the contest, “We have a record of 0 and 0 right now, and both we and Simpson are fighting for another week.”

He continued, “We know they have a great ball team, but we’re a tougher football team than when we saw them earlier in the year.

“We’re counting on our seniors to go out and defend our football tradition we have at BA and they’re looking forward to the challenge.”

For the first half of football, it was an absolute battle between two determined ball teams going toe to toe, with Simpson grabbing a slim three-point lead on a field goal as the halftime buzzer sounded.

However, Simpson got things going in the second half behind a three touchdown night from their senior running back Daniel Taylor to stretch out the lead and claim the victory over Brookhaven Academy 38-14.

BA came out of the gate running and put together a 75-yard drive right through the Simpson defense highlighted by 33-yard gallop from senior Landon Nettles to set up his own touchdown run from five yards out.

Parker Myrick added the PAT to give the Cougars the early 7-0 lead with 6:54 to play in the first quarter.

Simpson went to work and answered with a 63-yard touchdown drive culminating when quarterback Mason Herrin took it in on a 21-yard run. Andrew Berry added the PAT and knotted the score at 7-7 with 1:50 left in the first quarter.

After holding BA and forcing a punt, Simpson took over at their own 15-yard line and on the first play, Berry burst up the middle and found nothing but daylight for an 85-yard touchdown run. Berry again added the point after, giving Simpson the lead at 14-7 early in the second quarter.

Undeterred, the Cougars took possession at their own 20-yard line and went to work. Mixing runs with the pass, the Cougars marched deep into SA territory, and then Connor Dorman bounced off left tackle and dove into the end zone for the score. Myrick added the PAT, tying the score at 14 with 3:30 to play in the half.

Simpson quickly took the final drive of the half across midfield but had to settle for a 33-yard Andrew Berry field goal as time expired, sending the team to their locker rooms with Simpson clinging to a 17-14 lead.

Coming out of the locker room for the second half, the Cougars knew the importance of making a stop on Simpson’s first possession of the third quarter. Doing so and forcing a Simpson punt was exactly what the Cougars needed to start the second half.

Unfortunately, BA was unable to convert the stop to points and turned the ball back over to Simpson on downs, allowing Taylor to go back to work and rip off a quick 56-yard run to paydirt with 6:31 to play in the third. Berry added the conversion and gave SA some breathing room at 24-14.

Simpson forced a punt on BA’s next possession, and Simpson Head Coach Winston Mullins again turned to his senior workhorse Taylor, who capped off the SA drive with his third touchdown of the evening from 21 yards out. Berry added the kick to give Simpson a 31-14 lead with 2:16 left in the third.

Simpson added a fourth-quarter score when Herrin took a run in from five yards out to close the book on the 2013 campaign for Brookhaven Academy with a 38-14 victory over the visiting Cougars.

After offering words of encouragement to his team and thanks to his senior players, McCarty commented about the game and season, “I am real proud of the way our guys came out and fought against a very talented Simpson football team, especially the first half.”

He continued, “We went through some bumps in the road this year, and this team could have packed it in, but they stuck together and came to work every day in practice, played hard on Friday nights, stuck with their teammates and did it with class.

“There is not much more we could have asked of them.”

Leading the way offensively for the Cougars was Connor Dorman, who tallied 105 yards rushing and one touchdown on 17 attempts. Landon Nettles capped his BA football career with 71 yards on 16 attempts and one touchdown. Nettles also had a 55-yard kickoff return in the second half.

Bailey Warren had 73 yards passing on three completions for the Cougars, and Heath Hickman added 62 yards on a six-for-10 passing night. Caleb Brown had six catches on the evening for 77 yards.

Daniel Taylor led the Simpson Academy offense with 217 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Andrew Berry added 105 yards rushing, and quarterback Mason Herrin chipped in two touchdown runs on the night.

Defensively, the Cougars were led by Warren, Garrett Pace and Brock Ezell, who each secured six tackles for the contest. Nettles and senior Ross Foreman contributed five stops, respectively, to add to the BA total.

Brookhaven Academy opens their 2013-2014 basketball season at home Tuesday evening vs. Copiah Academy. The first of two junior high games kicks off at 4 p.m. with varsity basketball action immediately following.