BA upends Trinity in AA showdown
NATCHEZ – The Cougar Nation believed theirBrookhaven Academy football team had a shot at winning the MAISDistrict 5-AA championship but they had a newchallenge. Thanks toreclassification, the Cougars found themselves in the same districtwith perennial power Trinity Episcopal.
BA (9-2, 3-0) upset second-ranked Trinity 40-36, thanks to four bigplays from the players expected to lead the team. Seniors Bubba Keene and Will Lucaseach recorded two touchdowns, with each player reaching paydirt ata time the Cougars desperately needed it.
Keene had a 67-yard punt return and a 40-yard interception returnfor TDs in the fourth quarter, helping Brookhaven erase a 28-21deficit and giving the visitors a 33-28 lead with 6:46 left toplay.
Trinity (9-2, 2-1) had one last bid for heroics as Tip McKenzietook a Scott Turner pass and raced 75 yards for the score, givingthe Saints a 36-33 lead with just 1:49 remaining, and apparentlysaving their district title aspirations.
Brookhaven’s last drive seemed to be fading just as their lead had,until junior quarterback Gage Posey heaved what most probablythought was a desperation toss towards the end zone. But Posey had spotted a tremendouslywide-open Lucas for the 52-yard touchdown with 1:03 remaining.
The Cougars were able to force an incompletion from the Saints onfourth down in the waning seconds to secure the win and thedistrict title.
“Our kids showed a lot of heart tonight.” said BA head coach TrippMcCarty. “There wereseveral times that they could’ve wilted and dropped their heads,but they kept fighting and playing hard.
“We got some big playsfrom some big players. It’s a big win against a good football team.”
BA appeared to set the tone to start the game. After holding Trinity to a three andout to open the game, the Cougar offense put together a 9-play,55-yard drive that ended with Posey scoring on a 5-yardrun. Keene added the extrapoint for a 7-0 lead.
Trinity responded with a 7-play, 95-yard drive that ended withTurner connecting with Jacob Sandrock from 30 yards out, giving theSaints an 8-7 lead as McKenzie added the 2-point conversion.
Each team added one more touchdown in the first half. McKenzie scored on a 3-yard run with8:43 left, and Posey connected with Lucas from 24 yards out with6:43 remaining, giving the Saints a 14-13 lead at the break.
After halftime, Turner connected with Caleb Cross to open thescoring in the third, on a 27-yard pass with 9:00 remaining in thequarter.
BA responded at the 6:23 mark as Keene scored on a 3-yardrun. However, it tookTrinity just 20 seconds to answer as McKenzie caught a screen passfrom Turner and raced 65 yards for the TD, giving the Saints a28-21 lead heading into the final frame.
The Cougars claimed a sixth consecutive district championship, andin the process, halt Trinity’s district win streak. The Saints dropped a district gamefor the first time since the 2005 season.
“We gave up some big plays to a better football teamtonight.” said Trinityhead coach David King. “Weknew that Brookhaven was a good team and we’ve told our kids allweek they better be prepared for a battle, and that’s exactly whatwe got.
“It seems like every time we play Brookhaven it’s a big play thatis the difference and tonight was no different.”
Posey led the BA offense, completing 9 of his 24 pass attempts for153 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted once. Landon Nettles picked up 71 yards on17 carries in support.
Lucas was the leadingreceiver with two catches for 76 yards, with both catches beingtouchdowns. Keene caughtthree passes for 37 yards.
Turner completed 14 of his 33 pass attempts for 344 yards and fourtouchdowns. McKenzie wasthe leading receiver with four catches for 156 yards and twotouchdowns. Tanner Cagepicked up 57 yards on 6carries.
On defense, Jeff Rushing and Bailey Hodge each recorded 15 tackles. Eli Gatlin added 8 stopsin support. Bubba Keene,Ken Britt, and Hunter Franklin each registered 7 stops. Keene, Seth Rushing and Matthew Evanseach recorded an interception. Garrett Pace recovered afumble.
Brookhaven will host Oak Forest, the No. 2 seed from District 6-AA,in the first round of the MAIS Class AA state playoffsFriday. Kickoff is setfor 7 p.m. on R.M. “Red” Stuard Field.