Airport’s two quick scores at the start of the second half broke open a tight duel against Brookland-Cayce at the Cage on Friday night.
The Eagles flew on to a 41-9 victory over their region rivals in a non-region game, but it didn’t look that way in the first half.
“We just had an old-fashioned, locker room yell-at,” Eagles coach Kirk Burnett said. “Then we went out in the second half, and I thought we ran the ball well and quit making mistakes, quit turning the ball over.
Clinging to a 7-3 lead over the Bearcats, the Eagles jumped to a 14-3 lead when quarterback Sir Sutton connected with Anthony Steward for a 26-yard touchdown at the 10:46 mark. Two minutes later, Steward — at defensive back — picked off a Zeke Walker pass and returned it 30 yards for a score to put Airport up 21-3.
“We play such great defense against them,” Burnett said. “Our guys really get fired up when we play their skill guys. They did a good job shutting them down.”
Airport (2-0) added to its lead when Kentrell Bennon finished a eight-play, 51-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run with 3:57 to go in the third.
Despite a three-score deficit, the Bearcats tried to stay close. Walker saved a Brookland-Cayce possession from meltdown when he connected with B.J. DeWalt for a 40-yard gain. A few plays later, DeWalt walked in from 3 yards out to cut Airport’s lead to 28-9 early in the fourth.
The Eagles put the game out of reach with scores from Maurice Jackson and Corey Bradley.
“We’re just trying to get over that mental hump of trying to be a good program,” Brookland-Cayce coach Rusty Charpia said. “I know we made some good plays in the first half, but we just couldn’t execute. Those are the things that separate a good program from one that’s trying to rebuild.”
Airport tried to put their rivals out early, but the Bearcats hung tough in the first half.
After holding Brookland-Cayce to a three-and-out on the opening possession, Airport drove 51 yards on 11 plays to go up 7-0 with 3:39 left in the first quarter. Kentrell Bennon dove in from 1 yard out for the score.
The Bearcats (1-1) took over at their own 22 and closed out the quarter with a 66-yard scoring drive, capped with a Jacob Smoak 29-yard field goal.
Smoak tried again from 33 yards out several minutes later, but his shot that would have pulled Brookland-Cayce within one point of the Eagles went wide right.
Still, the Bearcats looked to overcome their slight deficit, until Airport put the game away with 21 points in the third quarter.
A—Bennon 1 run (Nelson kick) 3:39
B—Smoak 29 field goal. 12:00
A—Steward 26 pass from Sutton (Nelson kick) 10:46
A—Williams 30 interception return (Nelson kick) 8:20
A—Bennon 2 run (Nelson kick) 3:57
B—Simmons 3 run (pass failed) 11:05
A—Jackson 2 run (Nelson kick) 6:58
A—Bradley 56 run (kick blocked) 3:15
RUSHING—Airport, Bradley 8-80, Sutton 15-113, Bennon 7-8, Jackson 7-95, Harrington 4. Brookland-Cayce,Hamin 3-2, Lykes 2-5, Walker 12-35, Padgett 1-1, Myers 4-7.
PASSING—Sutton 6-11-1, Arnold 1-1-0. Brookland-Cayce, Walker 9-18-2, Towery 0-2-0.
RECEIVING—Airport,Jackson 1-5, Steward 3-48, Washington 1-(-1), Gaston 1-9, Jones 1-1. Brookland-Cayce, Amaker 4-54, Foster 1-14, Holman 1-30, DeWalt 1-40.