SECTIONAL CHAMPS: Strong second half propels Braves past Bulldogs



Brownstown Central’s football team used a stunning second-half effort to overcome a 13-point halftime deficit to defeat Batesville, 35-28, in the Class 3A Sectional 31 championship on Friday night.

Manhandled by Batesville (9-3) in the first half on both sides of the ball, the Braves roared back in the second half with an inspired offensive and defensive effort.

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“At halftime, I challenged the guys,” Brownstown head coach Reed May said. “I told them that we can either put our gear up on Tuesday, or keep playing. I’m very proud of the way them came out. They showed a lot of heart and character.”

After giving up 20 points and 260 yards to Batesville in the first two quarters, Brownstown’s defense allowed just 87 yards and 8 points in the second half.

“Defensively, we really hadn’t got to them,” May said. “In the second half, we were just able to wear them down. We blitzed them a lot and got to their quarterback.”

The Braves’ offense also got going, scoring 28 straight points to convert the deficit to a 35-20 lead.

Caleb Bollinger got BC started quickly in the second half, taking the opening kickoff 31 yards to spark the Braves. Brownstown marched downfield and capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown pass from Hayden Kinsler to Derek Thompson to cut Batesville’s lead to 20-14.

Kinsler’s two-yard TD run on the first play of the fourth quarter gave BC a 21-20 lead, its first of the game.

Braeden Walker, who provided a clutch performance running the ball for Brownstown, added a seven-yard TD run to extend the lead to 28-20.

Bollinger then struck again, returning a Batesville punt 57 yards for a touchdown that gave the Braves an insurmountable 35-20 lead.

With Friday’s win, Brownstown claimed its 13th sectional title in 20 championship appearances since Reed May took over the BC program in 1993. Promoted in 2011, the Braves are 4-1 in Class 3A sectional championships and are currently riding a four-game sectional-final win streak.

The Braves advance to next week’s regional, where they will meet the winner of the Evansville Memorial-Gibson Southern matchup in the Sectional 32 championship.

Heroes abounded for Brownstown against Batesville.

As mentioned, Walker was indispensible running the ball for the Braves. The junior ran for a game-high 109 yards on 14 attempts.

Thompson added 96 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. He was also BC’s leading receiver, with two catches, including a key 45-yard reception in the second half.

Kinsler finished with 89 yards on 8-for-12 passing.

Defensively, a long list of great performances was highlighted by Matthew Bell, who ended with 13 tackles, two tackles for loss, a game-clinching fumble recovery and two sacks. One of Bell’s sacks was a game-changer that dropped Batesville’s talented quarterback Trey Heidlage for an 11-yard loss.

Lucas Hines continued his emergence, finishing with nine tackles, a blocked extra point and two pass breakups.

Braden Neal and Walker also added a tackles for loss. Neal, Jalen Tiemeyer and Luke Shelton also had quarterback sacks.

“I think, defensively, we just got after them,” May said. “Their QB took some shots. We just kept coming. I think they had some guys playing both ways that don’t usually do that, and we wore them out in the second half.”

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