By Kevin Price
For GCS Athletics
The Brunswick High Pirates closed the regular season Friday night with some offensive fireworks and a sterling defensive performance as they routed Effingham 49-0 in the regular-season finale at Glynn County Stadium.
The Pirates, who honored their seniors prior to kickoff, scored on four straight possessions before halftime to open up a 28-0 lead at the break and they would score twice more in the third quarter for a 35-0 advantage which forced a running clock in the final period when they added another touchdown to make for the final tally.
“It was a great way for us to end the season, going into the playoffs,” said BHS coach Sean Pender. “We had a good night all around. It was a good team effort. It was a very good way for the seniors to end their senior season on this field.”
The victory allowed the Pirates to finish tied atop the Region 2-AAAAAA standings with Richmond Hill and Glynn Academy, meaning all three teams can claim a share of the league championship. However, with all three teams beating each other head-to-head during the season, the tiebreaker approved by the league before the season to determine seeding for the playoffs in a situation such as this was points allowed in games between the teams involved in the tie.
Glynn, which defeated Richmond Hill 7-5 in their matchup, allowed the least amount of points in the combined games with the Pirates and Wildcats than the other two did in their two games. Thus, the Red Terrors will be the No. 1 seed for the playoffs which open next week and will play at home. Richmond Hill earns the No. 2 seed because it defeated BHS in their meeting and also gets an opening-round home game. The Pirates are forced to settle for the third seed and thus will have to go on the road in the first round next week.
Brunswick finishes the regular season 7-3 overall and 5-1 in region action, losing only to the Wildcats in league play. The Pirates defeated Glynn 24-21 in the City Championship game to open the region schedule.
“We’ve accomplished two of our goals, winning the city championship and a region championship,” said BHS head coach Sean Pender after Friday’s game.
The Rebels, who ended the season 3-7 overall with two region victories, were one of three teams not making the playoffs from the seven-team league. The others were Bradwell Institute and South Effingham. Friday’s game was the final one for Buddy Holder as Effingham’s head coach as he announced his resignation effective at the end of the season prior to last week’s game against Statesboro.
Last Friday against the Blue Devils, the Rebels scrapped their run-heavy offense in favor of a spread offense featuring four- and five-receiver sets as they intended to throw the ball more often. And they threw it well as quarterback Zach Garcia passed for 350 yards and four touchdowns in the 35-33 loss at Statesboro which ended any chance the Rebels had at making the postseason.
Against the Pirates, the Rebels only threatened to score once, and that was after Brunswick fumbled the opening kickoff, giving them the ball inside BHS territory to start the game. The BHS defense would stop Effingham at the 10-yard line when Garcia fumbled the snap on a fourth-and-1 play and senior Amarion Whitfield recovered the loose ball for the Pirates.
Starting at its own 12, the BHS offense would parade 88 yards in five plays with Chuckobe Hill scoring on a 1-yard run to get the Pirates on the scoreboard. Hill caught a 44-yard pass on the drive from senior quarterback KJ Lee for the game’s first big-chunk play by the Pirates.
Brunswick would also score the next three times it had the ball in the first half, driving 80, 48 and 75 yards for touchdowns. The second TD came on a 7-yard pass from Lee to Leon Charlton who scored three times in the win for the Pirates. Ree Simmons had a 53-yard run to the Effingham 20 on this six-play march by the Pirates.
The team’s third score came on a 40-yard pass from Lee to fellow senior receiver Tyrease Jones who has been a big-play pass catcher for the Pirates all season.
Also late in the second period, Charlton ran 9 yards for a touchdown that made the score 28-0 at intermission.
In the third period, Garcia was picked off by Brunswick’s Derrick Smith on the opening possession and Smith returned the interception 34 yards for a touchdown to quickly make the score 35-0.
Late in the quarter, BHS backup quarterback Jeffery Waye tossed a 32-yard pass to Kevin Thomas to blink the scoreboard to 42-0.
Brunswick’s final touchdown in the fast-moving fourth quarter came on a 12-yard run by Charlton on third down.
BHS kicker Kyle Rehberg made the first six extra-point kicks for the Pirates before McClain Fineran made the last.
Brunswick finished the night with 438 total yards including 276 on the ground and another 162 via the pass. The Pirates had 18 first downs in the game.
Lee was 6-of-7 passing for 113 yards with an interception. Waye was 4-for-4 for 49 yards.
Simmons carried 12 times for 130 yards to lead the ground game for BHS and surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season. He entered the game needing 100 yards to reach that mark in the 10-game regular schedule. Hill ran for 72 yards on nine carries while Charlton gained 42 yards on six attempts.
“I thought we executed the game plan very well,” Pender noted. “We blocked well up front. Our receivers ran good routes and KJ had a good game. He threw the ball well with the exception of the interception.”
The shutout was the first this season for the Pirates who posted two shutouts last season. Brunswick figured Effingham would stick with the spread attack that proved effective last week despite the loss to Statesboro. The 33 points the Rebels scored in that game was easily the most they had scored this season.
“They did this same thing last week,” Pender said, referring to the offensive scheme used by Effingham. “I thought we covered well for the most part. We got pretty good pressure on the quarterback, and I thought we tackled well in the open field.”
Effingham was also blanked on the scoreboard by Glynn when the Rebels played the Terrors at GC Stadium earlier this season. The Rebels lost that game 38-0.