Braves edge Pirates in 34-28 slugfest


CHARLESTOWN — Call it “The Revenge Tour 2023.”

At least that’s what Brownstown Central’s football team is working toward this season after last year’s anomalous 6-5 record, the program’s first five-loss season since 1992.

On Saturday night, the Braves got their first chance to flip a loss from last season, and they took full advantage, surviving a tough, athletic Charlestown team 34-28 in a sweaty, cramping, bruising, hard-fought contest.

The two teams traded the lead three times before 21 unanswered second-half points gave Brownstown just enough cushion to outlast the determined Pirates.

“Our kids rose to the challenge and played well,” Braves head coach Reed May said. “Before the season, looking at the schedule, tonight’s game may have looked like a loss. Instead, we came down here, faced some adversity and overcame it. Our team grew up a lot. To be 2-0 right now is outstanding.”

Saturday’s game was moved a day from its originally scheduled Friday night slot due to last week’s extreme heat. That extra day may have given BC’s defense an edge.

“It gave us another day to prepare,” senior Keetan Burcham-Jones said. “We basically knew their offense inside and out after that.”

Burcham-Jones is part of BC’s stony defensive line, which held Charlestown’s potent offense to manageable numbers: 21 points (the Pirates’ other seven points came on a pick-six interception return), 175 passing yards and just 67 rush yards on 23 carries (2.9 average).

“Our front four is tough,” May said. “They’re a load to block passwise. They’re tough for passing teams. If they can stay healthy, they’re going to be pretty good.”

Brownstown’s front was productive throughout the night. Burcham-Jones finished with seven tackles, a tackle for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery.

His defensive line mates were just as active. Senior Ryan Branaman ended with six tackles and a sack. Sophomore Joe Roberts chipped in three tackles, a sack and a TFL, while sophomore Isaac Hutchinson contributed two tackles, one for loss, and batted down a Charlestown pass at the line of scrimmage.

“Our front four, front seven really, were getting to their passer and being disruptive,” Burcham-Jones said. “Our (defensive backs), their coverage was great. Everyone’s doing their reads, listening to the coaches and doing their jobs.”

Sophomore DB Preston Garrison highlighted the backfield’s effort with a first-quarter interception, while fellow sophomore Jack Pace seemed to be everywhere during a seven-tackle performance.

“I thought defensively, we played very, very well,” May summed up.

The defensive effort gave the offense the time it needed to solve a tough Charlestown defense.

Quarterback Micah Sheffer’s arm was responsible for the Braves’ first score. On the game’s first possession, the sophomore completed a 29-yard pass to Gregory Hutcheson and then a 25-yard touchdown pass to Garrison for an early 7-0 lead.

Brownstown’s usually productive run game stalled in the early going, however. The Braves’ first 13 carries netted just 7 yards as the Pirates’ fast, physical defenders corralled BC’s runners.

That changed late in the second quarter. Sparked by Garrison, Grant Killey and Lane Zike, Brownstown embarked on a 6-minute, 14-play, 71-yard scoring drive that gave it a 13-12 lead heading into halftime.

After the slow start, the Braves ran for 252 yards, 15 first downs and four TDs on 37 attempts over the remainder of the game.

“We talked to each other and said we just have to hit it,” Zike said. “It didn’t matter where the read was, just run as hard as you can, north and south. When we can run the ball, we start gaining momentum and start trusting each other.”

Zike led BC with 94 yards on 15 carries, followed by Garrison’s 78 yards on six attempts and Killey’s 54 yards on seven tries.

Not to be left out, fullback Chick Tiemeyer added 32 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown run that capped the tide-turning second-quarter possession.

After Charlestown took its largest lead at 20-13 late in the third quarter, Brownstown’s running game took command.

A 46-yard Garrison TD run tied the game at 20 with 2 minutes left in the third period. Killey pushed BC in front early in the fourth quarter with a 2-yard run.

Building a two-score lead late in the fourth quarter took a little luck. Facing a fourth-and-6 play on Charlestown’s 21, Brownstown went a little deeper into its playbook and called an option pass for Zike.

“Coach looked at me and asked, ‘Can you throw it?’” Zike said. “I just looked at him and said, ‘Oh yeah.’”

While the confidence was admirable, the result was, well, a little challenging. Zike’s pass was well short of open receiver Hudson Fritz. But the throw’s imperfection helped draw a pass interference call when Charlestown’s defender ran into Fritz as he came back for the ball.

“I was a little worried,” Zike said. “I saw that it was going short. Then I saw the flag and thought, ‘OK, we’re good.’”

Zike’s father, Seth, quarterbacked the Braves during the late 1990s. What would he think of the pass?

“It might have ruined ‘Zike at quarterback’ thoughts, that’s for sure,” Lane said with a smile.

Though not pretty, the pass nevertheless earned a first down for the Braves, which led a play later to an 11-yard TD run by Garrison, his third score of the night.

Suddenly holding a 34-20 lead with 3:45 left in the game, Brownstown appeared to be in a comfortable position. Moments later, the Braves looked even more comfortable when their defense forced Charlestown into a fourth-and-22 deep in Pirate territory.

That’s when things got a little weird. During the calm between plays, Brownstown was slapped with a personal foul when one of its players uttered impolite words near a referee.

That 15-yard infraction gave Charlestown a less-daunting fourth-and-7, which they happily converted on a 32-yard McClelland-to-Tre Martin pass. At the end of the play, BC was called for another personal foul (for targeting).

Just like that, in a single snap, Charlestown went from a fourth-and-22 at its 27-yard line to a first-and-10 at Brownstown’s 13.

“Stupid penalties,” May said, shaking his head. “That will be addressed on Monday. Actually, maybe on the ride home.”

Charlestown scored on its next play when McClelland found Ethan French in the corner of the end zone on a fade, narrowing the score to 34-28.

The Braves locked down the victory, however, when Hutcheson ably fielded Charlestown’s onside kick and two plays later when Zike ran for a first down that allowed BC to kneel twice and run out the clock.

When the final buzzer sounded, Brownstown’s players and coaches were able to assess what the victory meant for the rest of the season.

“It puts us in the driver’s seat for the (Mid-Southern) conference,” Zike said. “About three months ago, we started clicking as a team. We knew the sky was the limit if we wanted it bad enough.”

Burcham-Jones built on Zike’s perspective.

“This game was circled on the calendar,” he said. “This was the start of our bad season last year when we went 6-5. We wanted to make a statement in this game. We wanted to show everyone that we’re back to Brownstown football. We can be as great as we want to be. All the games we lost, we’re coming for them. We want to show that last year was a fluke.”



Brownstown Central (2-0); 7;6;7;14;—;34

Charlestown (1-1); 6;6;8;8;— ;28

First quarter

BC-Preston Garrison 25 pass from Micah Sheffer (Bryce Peak kick), 9:48

C-Jaydon Berkley 41 pass from Clay McClelland (run failed), 7:18

Second quarter

C-Berkley 45 interception return (run failed), 10:42

BC-Chick Tiemeyer 5 run (kick failed), 1:40

Third quarter

C-Tre Martin 45 pass from McClelland (McClelland run), 3:21

BC-Garrison 46 run (Peak kick), 2:06

Fourth quarter

BC-Grant Killey 2 run (Peak kick), 11:21

BC-Garrison 11 run (Peak kick), 3:45

C-Ethan French 13 pass from McClelland (Tyree Stoner pass from McClelland), 2:35


Rushing: Lane Zike 15-94, Garrison 6-75, Killey 7-54, Tiemeyer 6-32, Gregory Hutcheson 8-15, Micah Sheffer 6-(-3), Team 2-(-8), Totals 50-259.

Passing: Sheffer 3 for 9, 55 yards, 2 interceptions.

Receiving: Hutcheson 1-29, Garrison 2-26.

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