It was the best birthday gift a coach could wish for. First-year Bradwell Institute football coach Adam Carter became a little emotional after Tigers earned him a 34-28 win over Savannah High on Olvey Field Friday.
With his mother in the audience, visiting from Dallas, Ga., the coach thanked his players and told them better things are yet to come.
“I appreciate all of you and I am going to remember this moment for a long time,” Carter said after the game while surrounded by an exhausted but exhilarated team. “It feels a lot different right now doesn’t it … And that is the way we always want to feel. You just need to keep coming to work and we need to keep getting better.”
Quarterback coach Frank Troup handed Carter the game ball, capping off the first home game for the Tigers against a Blue Jacket team that didn’t give up.
Bradwell struck first when quarterback LeBaron Anthony connected on a 36-yard pass to Hubert Anderson, who stepped out of bounds at the 10 yard line. Anderson and Sammie Clayton chipped away at the yards on the next two plays and Anderson punched through on a 2-yard run.
Bradwell’s few mistakes came from the kick return team. On the ensuing kickoff the Tigers touched, but dropped the ball and the Blue Jackets recovered.
That gave the Blue Jackets first and 10 from the 15 as the first quarter ended. The Blue Jackets started the second with a touchdown run, but missed a two-point conversion attempt.
The Jackets’ long, high kick fell right into Tiger Ziere Diggs’ hands. After a quick step to the left, Diggs sprinted downfield 96 yards for the touchdown. The Tigers were up 14-6.
On BI’s next offensive drive, Anthony was intercepted and the Blue Jackets drove into the end zone and converted for two points to tie the game.
The Tigers dropped another kickoff, but this time they stopped the Blue Jackets from scoring.
Anthony’s passing was flat, going 2 of 11 for 46 yards.
“We’ve had a lot of adversity this week, but our kids are coming out here and they are not giving up,” Carter said. “We had six starters out from our offense and we had some guys come out here and step up … And they never quit on me.”
The Tigers opened the third quarter with a no huddle offense. Anthony, Clayton and Anderson carried the ball and the Bradwell team chewed up the yards and clock. The Tigers converted a crucial fourth down pass to Deion Stewart. Clayton put the Tigers near the goal line. Anderson lined up as the quarterback, took the snap and leaped over a Blue Jacket into the end zone. The Tigers extra point was good to extend the lead to 20-14.
The Blue Jackets took their first lead of the game off a 25-yard kick return and a roughing the passer penalty. That gave the Blue Jackets a new set of downs. They marched downfield and scored. The Blue Jackets converted for 2 and the 22-21 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Clayton had a 59-yard run, setting up a touchdown run by Anthony, recapturing the lead. The Tigers, however, couldn’t convert for two points. Later Anthony broke free and rushed for a 40-yard touchdown, giving the Tigers a 34-22 lead.
Clayton ended the game with 16 carries for 142 yards. Anthony had 13 carries for 84 yards and two touchdowns. Anderson rushed for two touchdowns, 47 yards on 11 carries. Anderson also had a reception good for 36 yards.
The Blue Jackets did score another touchdown, after a personal foul call against the Tigers.
Tiger kicker Robert Miller had two punts for 66 yards and was 4-of-4 in extra point attempts.
“I can’t,” Carter said when asked to describe his first win. “But you can hear it right now. The kids are excited, they deserve it, and I am just happy to be a part of it.”
The Tigers are 1-1 and host Charlton County Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Olvey Field.