Braves outlast Salem in clutch


Salem threw an offensive curveball at Brownstown Central’s football teamĀ  Friday night. But, after a half of confusion, the Braves’ defense rebounded with a strong second-half effort to lead Brownstown to a hard-fought 41-27 victory.

Throwing passes to the right side to all-everything receiver Evan Brishaber, running a read-option up the middle and a straight option to the left, Salem scored on four of five possessions to take a 27-20 lead with 10:58 remaining in the third quarter.

Brownstown’s defense hardened thereafter, however, stopping the Lions (1-3) on their last five possessions.

Offensively, the Braves (4-0) got touchdowns from Gus Hogan and Caleb Bollinger to pull away to BC’s 15 consecutive victory against Salem.

The Lions last beat Brownstown in 2005.

“You’ve got to give (Salem head coach RJ Hartsfield) credit,” Brownstown head coach Reed May said. “They changed their offense completely from anything we had seen. Last year’s team could adjust, but this year’s team is so inexperienced.

“We tried to call a timeout in the first quarter, but that didn’t work. Finally, at half time, we showed them what (Salem) was doing. I thought we lost our composure in the first half, but we calmed down in the second half. I’m proud of our kids for bouncing back.”

Defensively, Brownstown was allowing just 9.3 points and 194 yards of offense to its opponents. Salem scored 27 points and finished with 361 yards of offense.

The way the game started, Brownstown looked like it would enjoy a regular, comfortable contest.

A 27-yard Hogan-to-Robbie Branaman touchdown pass and a 66-yard Colton Ritz TD run gave BC a 14-0 lead and all of the game’s momentum.

But Salem countered with quarterback Brandon Corbin and Brishaber. Corbin ended with 172 yards on 12-for-30 passing and two touchdowns.

Brishaber caught 10 of the passes, both TDs and accounted for 155 receiving yards.

An 11-yard Corbin-to-Brishaber pass tied the game at 20 just before halftime. Corbin, who rushed for 93 yards, then ran 45 yards for a score that gave Salem its seven-point lead.

Hogan, who scored three touchdowns and threw for a fourth, scored two straight TDs to push BC back in front, 34-27. Bollinger then sealed the victory with is four-yard plunge with 1:29 left in the game.

The second-half defensive effort was paced by cornerbacks Derek Thompson and Hogan, who helped lock down Brishaber on the edge, and by Luke Shelton, Jalen Tiemeyer and Lendon Underwood, who each had clutch, drive-altering quarterback sacks.

Bollinger led Brownstown with nine tackles, followed by Shelton with eight.

Ritz led BC runners with 122 yards on just six carries. Hogan followed with 118 yards on 16 attempts.

“We needed this game,” May said. “Sometimes, we get full of ourselves with blowout wins. These games are fun.”