Midlands football players share their go-to pregame rituals
Brookland-Cayce coach Rusty Charpia has always been known as somewhat of a gambler. The call he made Friday late in the Bearcats’ 35-32 victory over rival Airport will go down as one of the big payoffs.
Sophomore quarterback Peyton Whitten, making his first varsity start, completed a 25-yard pass to Jordan Wise to convert a fourth-and-21 situation and allow Brookland-Cayce to run out the final 5:51 and hang on for the early season non-region win.
“We’ve struggled a little bit on the snap with a young punter,” Charpia said. “They had all the momentum on offense. We couldn’t seem to slow them down. The worst thing in my mind is, if we screw this thing and get the punt blocked, we can’t stop them. We sent three people deep. I felt if they intercepted it, that is as good as a punt. Jordan Wise made a heck of catch.”
Airport coach Kirk Burnett thought his team might have gotten a stop earlier in that drive with a fumble recovery, but the officials had blown the play down.
“We got the bad end of it but that’s part of football,” Burnett said about the call. “It was a well-officiated game; one play didn’t make the game even though it hurt us.”
Until that point, it was a back-and-forth affair that featured a couple of electric juniors in the state. Brookland-Cayce’s Will Way ran for two touchdowns, caught another one for a score, completed a pass and played safety and linebacker on defense.
When the Bearcats got the ball back after a Nanders Lawrence 17-yard touchdown run brought the Eagles within three with just under six minutes remaining, Way lined up in a power Wildcat formation and helped move Brookland-Cayce to the Airport 26 before Whitten came in to complete the clincher.
Way finished with 171 yards rushing, 44 yards receiving and 19 passing in an all-around complete performance.
“If we just get Way the ball in space, he’s some kind of player,” Charpia said. “We have some other guys too. We just have to get them the ball somehow.”
Way felt he needed to step up with Malachi Brown, last week’s starting quarterback, being out with an injury.
“It sort of got away from us at the end, so we had to hit them right back in the mouth,” Way said. “Put me anywhere on the field and I’m going to do my job to help the team out.”
Deonte Baker added two touchdown runs as well for Brookland-Cayce (1-1). He scored on runs of two and 13 yards, the last one on the second play of the fourth quarter that ended up being the game-winner. Baker added 69 yards rushing.
Those two helped offset the performance of Lawrence. The junior ran for touchdowns of 4, 27 and 17 yards and added a 29-yard touchdown reception. He finished with 156 yards of total offense on 14 touches for Airport (1-1).
“I think he’s one of the best players in Columbia, if not the state,” Burnett said. “He can catch the ball, run it, throw it. He’s good with the ball in his hands, but what goes unnoticed is how he blocks when the ball isn’t in his hands.”
HOW THEY SCORED
BC – Will Way 2 run (Way run) 8:33
A – Nanders Lawrence 29 pass from Markco Gilmore (run failed) 4:09
BC – Way 19 run (Eric Young kick) 1:25
BC – Deonte Baker 2 run (Young kick) 8:41
A – Lawrence 4 run (kick blocked) 5:06
BC – Way 29 pass from Peyton Whitten (kick blocked) 1:05
A – Bruce Staley 1 run (run failed) 8:18
A – Lawrence 27 run (Haden Rimer kick) 3:03
BC – Baker 13 run (Young kick) 11:28
A – Lawrence 17 run (Rimer kick) 5:51
Rushing: Air: Bruce Staley 19-80, Nanders Lawrence 11-112, Markco Gilmore 7-49. BC: Will Way 31-171, Deonte Baker 12-69, Peyton Whitten 8-33, Keon Middleton 2-21.
Passing: Air: Gilmore 6-12-2-69. BC: Whitten 8-11-1-125, Way 1-1-0-19.
Receiving: Air: Lawrence 3-44, Bryce Rucker 1-9, Eddie Staley 1-4, B. Staley 1-12. BC Way 3-44, Middleton 1-10, Owen Plane 1-19, Jordan Wise 4-71, Latrell Jamison 1-21.