Braves season comes to an end


For the Tribune


With their game delayed two-and-a-half hours by a passing storm system’s impressive lightning show, Brownstown Central’s football team spent the next three hours trying to catch lightning in a bottle.

Unfortunately for the Braves, despite an impressive effort, it slipped through their fingers.

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Facing a daunting task against a superior opponent, Brownstown carried a lead into the final quarter before No. 6 Lawrenceburg (9-1) scored 20 unanswered points and pulled away to a 33-20 victory in Friday’s opening round of a Class 3A sectional.

The loss ended a wild, pandemic-altered season for the Braves, who closed with a 6-3 record and saw their postseason hopes stopped in the first round for the second straight season.

“You’ve got to give credit to (Lawrenceburg),” Braves coach Reed May said. “They’re a great program. It’s not like we came down here to play the Little Sisters of the Poor. I challenged our guys to play with a lot of heart tonight and they did. I’m very proud of the way we played.”

Friday’s game, like the 2020 season, was anything but normal.

Originally scheduled to start at 7 p.m., Friday’s contest didn’t kick off until 9:26 p.m. due to persistent lightning in the Lawrenceburg area. Marked by pendulum-like momentum swings, the game didn’t end until after midnight.

When Lawrenceburg scored its second touchdown with 10:48 to go in the second quarter, it looked as if a late night would also be a long night for Brownstown.

At that point in the game, the Tigers had run 22 offensive plays to BC’s eight and out-gained the Braves offensively 173 yards to 34 while owning a 13-0 lead.

But just when it looked as if the Braves might get blown off the field, they wrested control of the game and dominated the night’s middle two quarters. Reversing the first quarter’s lopsided statistics, Brownstown scored 20 consecutive points and had the Tigers off-balance.

The Braves’ turnaround started with a six-yard Lucas Hines touchdown run, which trimmed Lawrenceburg’s lead to 13-7 with 8:39 left in the first half.

After BC’s defense forced the Tigers into a three-and-out, then punt, the Braves constructed their longest drive of the night, a 12-play, 90-yard journey aided by a fortuitous 15-yard personal foul penalty on Lawrenceburg.

Jayden Steinkamp ended the long drive with a two-yard touchdown run that knotted the game at 13 with 2:14 to go in the first half.

In the third quarter, after senior Nicolas Robbins recovered a Tiger fumble, Brownstown again found the end zone when Hines broke free down the left sideline for a 64-yard TD run.

“Our linemen gave me a hole and I just hit it,” Hines said of his run. “I need to give a thank-you to the linemen. They’ve given me and all of our running backs holes to run through all season.”

Now leading 20-13, the Braves needed one more lightning strike to fully turn the game their way. And they nearly got it when Lawrenceburg quarterback Garrett Yoon appeared to fumble the ball at midfield on a four-yard run.

Brownstown recovered the loose ball, but the celebration was cut short by the far-side official, who ruled Yoon was down before the ball popped from his grasp.

“We obviously have the advantage of having the iPad,” May said of the video technology Brownstown coaches use to review plays nearly in real-time. “We looked at the play and it looked like a fumble. Those things happen. You have to be able to overcome them.”

Lawrenceburg coach Ryan Knigga also saw the non-fumble as pivotal.

“That was definitely a play that could have swung the game,” he said.

Given new life, the Tigers were aggressive on their next play, with Yoon finding Dakota Roth on a 40-yard pass at Brownstown’s 10-yard line. Moments later, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Yoon scored on a six-yard run to even the score at 20.

Suddenly, the Braves’s momentum evaporated. BC’s next three offensive possessions ended in punt, another punt and a turnover on downs. Lawrenceburg, meanwhile, scored two more times and claimed the victory.

“I don’t know if we wore (Brownstown) down, but I thought our guys dominated the line of scrimmage late in the game,” Knigga said. “I told our kids that this was going to be a four-quarter game. The biggest thing for us was how our defense played. We were able to hold Brownstown to 20 points.”

Lawrenceburg ended with two 100-yard rushers. Senior Adam Burd finished with a game-high 149 yards and two touchdowns, while Yoon added 137 yards and a score.

Yoon also threw for 135 yards on 5-for-14 passing, including a 66-yard TD strike to Dahya Patel for the game’s first touchdown.

“This was a great football game,” Knigga said. “I’m glad we get to play one another. Coach May is a hall of famer. We’ve got a lot of respect for him, and for Brownstown, that’s a community that really loves football.”

For Brownstown, quarterback Kiernan Tiemeyer started the game by completing his first five passes and finished with 127 yards on 6-for-11 passing. His favorite target was Brandon Reynolds, who had three catches for 68 yards.

On the ground, the Braves were paced by Hines, who ran for 136 yards and two TDs on just 13 carries. Steinkamp followed, earning every one of his 50 yards on 12 carries.

Hines also led the Braves defensively with 16 tackles. One of seven seniors on this year’s team, Hines and his fellow classmates were the last players to walk off the field.

“It’s been an honor to wear this jersey,” Hines said. “My dad played (for Brownstown). I was just trying to carry on the legacy. Every one of our players plays hard and tries to make our town proud.”

For May, his 28th season as Brownstown’s head coach was truly unique.

“I’m glad, with (the pandemic), that we got this far,” May said. “Everyone was hurt by not having summer workouts, but with only three starters returning, it really hurt us. Based on everything that happened, I’m very proud of our kids.”

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