Friday was the first senior night for Bradwell Tiger head coach Greg Hill, but the seniors and other members of his team played like they had been with him for four years in a 22-14 Region 3-AAAAA loss to the Brunswick Pirates.
Coming in, coaches saw the scouting report on Brunswick and ranked them somewhere between Richmond Hill and soon to be region title winner Ware County.
The Pirates are led by freshman quarterback Randin Jernagin and have a host of talent around him. Brunswick moved back to region 3-AAAAA after two years in the SEC of high school football, Region 1-AAAAAAA.
“We are learning to keep fighting,” Hill said. “I have always told this team since last spring and all through the summer we had to learn to play four full quarters of football. Tonight we came up short but we played for four quarters. Brunswick is a good football team with size and speed and we were able to play against them until the end of the game. I am really proud of the effort that we gave tonight. Despite the record, the players keep coming out every day and putting on their pads and working hard to get ready for the next ball game. They haven’t quit on us, most of them have started to work harder.”
Brunswick is battling for the fourth and final playoff spot in Region 3-AAAAA. Ware County clinched the region title Friday, defeating South Effingham, 44-6. The Pirates came into Friday’s game averaging nearly 270 yards and 28.9 points per game.
“We are very fortunate to have had this group of young people who have participated in athletics and band this year. Each of these students has represented Bradwell Institute in the highest of caliber. These students were escorted by parents, family members and friends, but they were shown appreciation by each spectator in attendance,” BI athletic director Ken Griffin said Jernagin scored on a 57-yard run to give the Pirates an early lead with 6 minutes to go in the first quarter. He tacked on a two-point conversion after the PAT he was holding for was muffed. Brunswick added another score on a 78-yard run to go up 15-0.
Though Brunswick scored 22 points in the first 24 minutes, the Pirate offense looked sluggish because of penalties and a strong Bradwell Institute defensive effort.
Special teams came through for the Tigers, as they have for much of the season. Terrius Crimmel ran a 95-yard kickoff return for Bradwell’s first touchdown in the second quarter.
The Tigers added another score on a 13-play drive in the final minute of the first half. The second touchdown came off the legs of senior linebacker Isiah Barnes, cutting Brunswick’s lead to 22-14.
Barnes was in the backfield for injured tail back Luther Echols.
Bradwell stopped the Brunswick offense in the second half, which amounted to a stalemate for both teams.
Brunswick pieced together a drive late, but did not reach the end zone when the Tigers defense turned them back at the 25 yard line.
“We are thin at every position, but our kids have refused to quit all year,” Hill said. “This certainly is a credit to the senior players and the whole team and coaching staff. Our defense played a very good game. Outside of the two plays they were stingy all night. They kept us in the football game.”
The Tigers fall to 0-9 and will travel to Douglas to face Coffee County next Friday in the final of the 2014 campaign. Coffee County will finish region runner-up.