By Kevin Price
For GCS Athletics
The Brunswick High Pirates won their home opener Friday night at Glynn County Stadium as they defeated McIntosh County Academy 21-6 on a rainy night along the Georgia coast.
Rebounding from their season-opening loss last week at Pierce County, the Pirates scored all of their points before halftime with three touchdowns prior to intermission including a pair of scoring passes from senior quarterback KJ Lee who had a big first half throwing the ball.
Lee completed all nine of his passes in the opening 24 minutes while throwing for 168 yards to help the Pirates compile 237 yards of offense before the break.
“The first half was about what I expected,” said BHS coach Sean Pender. “We hit some plays and got the passing game going which was important. We wanted to do that. We got some good plays through the air.”
For the game, the Pirates finished with 354 total yards. They ran for 147 and passed for 207.
Lee, who played through the end of the third quarter before giving way to junior backup Jeffery Waye, wound up completing 12 of 13 attempts for all of Brunswick’s passing yards.
“I was pleased with KJ,” Pender said. “He improved a lot from last week. “He was solid, and he was poised which was the biggest thing. McIntosh brought a lot of heat.”
Lee connected with senior receiver Tyrease Jones for a 29-yard scoring strike on Brunswick’s first drive of the night. Jones caught six passes for 83 yards in the win.
Lee also hit senior wideout Amarion Whitfield with a 62-yard TD bomb along the MCA sideline in the closing seconds of the opening half. That play came on second-and-29 for the Pirates after they committed penalties which took them back inside their own territory.
Brunswick also marched 74 yards and scored on a 5-yard run by junior running back Ree Simmons with just over two minutes to play before halftime. Lee completed a 22-yard pass to senior receiver Xavier Bean on third down to keep the BHS drive alive. The TD run by Simmons came on the 12th play of the drive.
The Pirates also got strong runs from Pat Leggett, Leon Charlton and Lee as they played without the services of junior running back Chuckobe Hill who ran for more than 1,000 yards last season. He is sidelined with a knee injury sustained early last week in the loss to Pierce.
“It was by committee,” Pender said of the BHS running game.
The Pirates missed two good scoring chances in the second half as they lost a fumble after a first-down completion inside the MCA 5-yard line and later in the fourth period also misfired on a would-be touchdown throw on fourth down from the McIntosh 19 when Jones couldn’t keep the handle on a pass from Waye in the end zone.
“We wanted to establish the run in the second half when we were beating on them a little bit and we did that, but stalled those two times in the red zone,” Pender said. “We wanted to get Jeffery Waye in there and get him some reps as well.”
The BHS defense pitched a shutout until the bitter end when the Bucs scored on a 3-yard run by senior running back Trent Johnson to avoid the shutout. Johnson’s run came on an untimed down following an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Pirates which irritated the BHS head coach.
Earlier, the Bucs got a fresh set of downs at the BHS 15 when a late hit on Johnson on the MCA sideline resulted in a flag against the Pirates.
“I liked how we played as a whole on defense, but didn’t like what happened right at the end,” Pender said.
McIntosh finished with 217 rushing yards. Johnson led the Bucs with 155 yards on the ground. He had a long run of 31 yards on the final possession prior to his touchdown.
The BHS defense forced a turnover on downs by the Bucs at the Pirates’ 22-yard line following a mental mistake by the punter which gave MCA the ball at the 26 early in the final period.
“We controlled the game, and that’s what we wanted to do,” Pender said.
McIntosh also lost last week at GC Stadium as the Bucs fell 33-7 to Glynn Academy to open the season. MCA competes in Class A while the Pirates and Red Terrors are both Class 6A schools.
Brunswick will be back at home next week to host Benedictine. The Cadets knocked off Effingham 49-7 on Friday after thumping Burke County last week.