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Brookhaven Academy falls against the might of Centreville — Tigers’ rushing attack grinds down big-play Cougars to end season

The millstone of Centreville ground slow and fine Friday night, trapping Brookhaven Academy beneath its weight and crushing the Cougars’ playoff run by a score of 52-33 in the second round of the playoffs.

The season ended for BA (9-3, 2-2) on the misty field at Centreville Academy (10-2, 3-0) as it was out-manned by the Tigers’ dominant rushing attack, despite impressive play from the Cougar offense and selfless, vicious hits from the blue defenders. BA drove up and down the field on tough runs and deep passes, but untimely mistakes halted drives and served great field position to the Tigers, whose close-in “magnum” offense powered through the Cougar interior time and time again before kneeling out the final moments of the fourth quarter.

“I want everyone’s head up high. It’s been a great season and you have a lot to be proud of,” BA coach Ron Rushing told his team after the game as they huddled around him and the seniors wept. “You’ve come a long way since last year. This year we learned how to score. This offseason we’re going to work on the defense and next year we’ll give it to them.”

Rushing’s game plan attacked Centreville with trick plays, numerous onside kicks and risky throws that paid off more often than not, and it was obvious early in the first quarter the Cougars were playing to win instead of playing not to lose. Even after falling behind 16-0 in the first half, BA survived Centreville’s lunge for the jugular and battled back to take the lead 27-22 with 6:59 remaining in the third.

Both teams exchanged touchdowns all night — BA on big plays down the sideline, Centreville on sustained power rushes — but late in the third quarter the Tigers’ running machine kept on churning while the Cougars turned the ball over on consecutive failed fourth down conversions. BA fought until the very end, but by then the Tigers were too far ahead and the clock was draining fast.

“We rolled the dice tonight,” Rushing said. “To get down early like we were, and for our kids to have the determination and grit to get back in the lead, that speaks volumes about our team. They could have laid down and quit, but they didn’t. They played hard.”

Junior quarterback Dawson Flowers had another stellar night passing the ball, completing 19 of 29 passes for 309 yards and four touchdowns. But he took no credit, instead attributing his success to Rushing’s play design, his offensive line’s protection and his receivers’ ability to get open.

“There were a couple of plays I wish I had back — a couple of bad snaps and bad throws — so I could have helped my teammates more,” Flowers said. “I wish we could have sent these seniors out of here with a win. But we’ve had a great season. I have nothing but good things to say about our team.”

Senior wide receiver Tate Felder had to contend with tight man coverage all night, but he made the Tiger defenders pay late in the second quarter when he broke a half-dozen tackles and turned a short pass into a 56-yard touchdown, sprinting down the right sideline. His score closed the gap to 22-20 Centreville and made the Cougar’s ultimately unsuccessful second-half comeback possible.

“Coach Rushing knows all the right routes to get us open, and we had a hard fought game. We had them scared,” Felder said. “I wish we could have won, but it’s been a great season. I haven’t played football since seventh grade, but coach Rushing made me love it again.”

Junior wide receiver Cade Brown finished the game with 10 catches for 125 yards, while senior running back Tanner Waldrop ran hard and often for 143 yards. Senior Ethan Nations recorded the Cougars’ first touchdown of the game in an impressive “fumbleroosky” that left Centreville’s defenders chasing ghosts on the field.

Centreville will face St. Joseph next week in the third round of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools playoffs. Brookhaven Academy returns home for the final time.