Swansea held off a furious Brookland-Cayce rally to escape with a 24-18 win Friday at Bearcat Stadium.
In the process, the Tigers (5-4, 4-0) wrapped up the Region 5-3A championship – the program’s first region title at the 3A level.
Meanwhile, Brookland-Cayce’s postseason bid ended. The loss to Swansea coupled with Airport’s win against Midland Valley means next week’s season finale against archrival Airport will be for pride only.
Swansea built a 24-0 lead five minutes into the second half, but it was all B-C from there. The Bearcats (5-4, 1-3) cut the Tigers advantage to 24-16 and had one last shot before the comeback came to an end with an incomplete pass on fourth down from the Swansea 17 with 1:44 to go.
The final points came when Swansea punter Yenum Pena ran into the end zone for a safety with 2 seconds to go.
“We haven’t done anything the easy way all season, starting with getting off to a 0-4 start,” Swansea coach Chad Leaphart said. “This was just one more challenge we had to face and overcome. I’m real proud of the way the guys responded when we had our backs against the wall. (B-C) is a very talented team, and they never quit.”
The Bearcats turned the momentum on one play – a 65-yard scoring pass from Kozie Brown to Charles Balkcom – on their first play after Swansea pushed its lead to 24-0.
Balkcom’s 33-yard run in the fourth quarter set up a 4-yard scoring pass from Thomas Scott to DeJon Amaker on a flea flicker, followed by Amaker’s two-point conversion catch to make it 24-16 with 7:56 remaining.
After the B-C defense held, Amaker hauled in a 24-yard pass from Brown to put the Bearcats in business at the Tigers’ 20. Four plays later, the Bearcats’ rally fizzled.
“We responded when we had to make a play,” Leaphart said. “We’re playing our best at the right time. The guys kept believing in what we were doing when things were not going well early in the season.”
Swansea took advantage of an early break – recovering a fumble on the opening kickoff that led to a 7-yard scoring pass from Clay Lucas to Craig Johnson.
Johnson’s 22-yard catch set up Chance Walker’s 10-yard scoring run in the second quarter for a 17-0 lead.
Walker and Quaevon Cannon accounted for the bulk of the Tigers’ offensive production, combining for 180 of the team’s 236 yards. Walker finished with 92 yards on 14 carries, while Cannon bulled for 88 on 22 totes.
S – Craig Johnson 7 pass from Clay Lucas (Yenum Pena kick), 9:56
S – Pena FG 33, 10:08
S – Chance Walker 10 run (Pena kick), 6:42
S – Lucas 5 run (Pena kick), 7:02
BC – Charles Balkcom 65 pass from Kozie Brown (Myers run), 6:39
BC – DeJon Amaker 4 pass from Thomas Scott (Amaker pass from Brown), 7:56
BC – Safety, 0:02