Patriots win first game in two years
Special to the Enquirer
FLORETTE – The Brewer Patriots (1-5) snapped a 15-game losing streak against the Columbia Eagles (1-5) Friday night 40-19.
The loyal Patriot fans that have continued to show strong support for their team were not disappointed this week as Brewer snagged its first lead of the season in the first half on the way to a decisive victory over their regional opponents.
“It’s a great feeling to see this place in smiles,” said Brewer’s head coach Dan Styles.
“It’s a big win for this school and this community. They have been waiting for this and we hope that it will be the first of many to come. We talked a lot about response this week. We focused on how to respond coming into a game without a win and how we respond going into the half with the lead for the first time. These kids deserve it. We hope that this will be the catalyst that these kids need to find confidence. We tried to simplify what we do and focus on repetitions this week. I stressed to our team that we do what we do well, and it showed. “
Brewer’s defense came into the first drive strong. Patriots junior T.J. Morrow made his presence known first on defense with a sack on the Eagles quarterback Patrick Lewis forcing a turnover on downs for Columbia on its opening drive.
The Patriots offense came into their opening drive looking strong with senior quarterback Weston Pritchett connecting to Nicholas Humphries for a quick three yards. However Brewer made the first mistake when Morrow fumbled on his first carry setting up Columbia on the Brewer 42 yard line.
The Eagles turned the error into points with a drive capped off by a one-yard quarterback scramble. A successful point after attempt by Matthew Reed set Columbia up with a 7-0 lead.
Despite another Brewer fumble, the Patriots defense continued to keep the game within reach throughout the rest of the first quarter.
Brewer fans appeared to get what they have been waiting so long for when Pritchett connected to Brendon Deberry on a screen pass which Deberry took 79 yards for a touchdown. However, Patriot fans would have to wait a little longer as the failed point after attempt failed leaving the Patriots still trailing 7-6.
Columbia answered with back to back carries for Chris Johns totaling 65 yards and a 13 yard touchdown rush. Patrick Lewis scrambled on the two point conversion play but the Patriots stood tall with William Wilkinson stopping him short of the goal line and leaving the Eagles with only a 13-6 lead.
With eight minutes left until halftime, the Patriots finally earned what they had been working so hard for. Brewer drove 60 yards with another touchdown connection from Pritchett to Humphries. Pritchett connected again for a two point conversion play giving Brewer a 14-13 lead; the first lead of the season.
“We knew we could win this one because of our preparation and focus,” Pritchett said. “The offensive line did a great job. I did not get sacked or hit one time unless I ran it, and the receivers did a great job running their routes.”
Brewer did not stop there. On the final drive of the half, junior TJ Morrow drove his way through the Columbia defense for 48 yards. The following play Morrow would not be denied a two yard touchdown run setting the Patriots up with a 20-13 lead at halftime.
Brewer stepped onto the field in the second half prepared to finish the game. Nicholas Humphries took the opening kickoff of the half to the Brewer 34-yard line. On the ensuing drive, Humphries was able to draw to important pass interference calls against the Eagles at the wide receiver position. Brewer exploited the Eagles’ mistakes with another 16 yard touchdown run by TJ Morrow. The failed two point play built up the Patriots lead to 26-13.
Columbia quickly responded with a 70-yard drive capped off by a quarterback draw for a touchdown. Brewer blocked the point after attempt to maintain a 26-19 lead with 30 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Patriots covered the ensuing onside kick and quickly responded themselves with Morrow scoring his third touchdown with a 54-yard one play drive. Pritchett displayed his calmness under pressure when he tucked the ball and weaved through the Columbia defense for a two point conversion giving Brewer a 34-19 lead.
“The guy I was supposed to throw it to got hit so I just did what I needed to do to get the points,” Pritchett said.
Brewer’s defensive success continued into the fourth quarter with Austin Crouch making a crucial interception inside his own 10 yard line. TJ Morrow turned the final Columbia error into points with a two yard touchdown carry to give Brewer the final 40-19 victory over the Eagles.
“This win means everything,” said TJ Morrow.
“I have to give everything to my offensive line tonight. Tonight was the best I have seen them all year. We did a lot of things different this week. We put a lot of faith in our coaches. I think it all came together for the first time tonight.”
The Brewer victory finally gives first time head coach Dan Styles the catalyst he has been searching for from his team all season.
“This is just unbelievable,” Pritchett said. “The seniors have been working real hard for so long and this win is just indescribable. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Styles and his team will now look to carry this momentum on the road as Brewer gets set to travel to Scottsboro on Oct. 12.