St. Thomas Aquinas had a sloppy first half and a battle on its hands from an opportunistic Brusly team during Friday’s nondistrict game at Brusly on Friday. But they also had Cameron Dantzler.
Dantzler showed off his Southeastern Conference potential with a dazzling performance as the Falcons came back three times to hold off Brusly 35-31. The Mississippi State commitment carried 22 times for 280 yards and scored on runs of 80, 1, 29 and 50 yards.
Dantzler’s final TD came after the Panthers had gone up 31-28 on a 10-yard shovel pass from Jason Holliday to Tyler Nash. His 29-yard run came after Kevin Godfrey ran 14 yards to put Brusly (2-1) ahead 25-21.
“It was just a great high school football game,” said STA coach John White, whose team improved to 3-0. “We went up 14 (in the first quarter) and they came right back. Then we went down, but we came back. Both teams answered the bell tonight.”
Brusly had a great opportunity and an apparent go-ahead touchdown when Kirk Snearl picked up the Falcons’ fifth fumble with 4:12 left in the game and rumbled 48 yards into the end zone, only to have the touchdown nullified by an illegal block in the back far behind the play.
“A mistake cost us late, and that’s what happens with a young team,” Brusly coach Marc Brown said. “But we’re playing hard and the guys are learning the offense. We got great leadership from our quarterback (Holliday), and we had big plays from our offense and defense and special teams. Credit our coaching staff with that.”
The Panthers had a three-pronged rushing attack out of their spread offense. Holliday carried 16 times for 99 yards, Zavian Bell 14 for 63 yards, and Nash seven times for 24 yards. Both Nash and Caleb Dupont had a touchdown pass.
Dantzler was the difference in a sloppy, but exciting first half. The 6-foot-4 quarterback had an 80-yard sprint for a touchdown and led the Falcons on a 26-second drive at the end of the half, scoring again on a 1-yard sneak to give STA a 21-19 halftime lead.
The second touchdown was set up by a 35-yard strike from Dantzler to Hunter Stanley.
The first followed a strange play in which the Falcons fumbled on their own 16 and a wild scramble followed with STA recovering in the end zone. One official originally signaled safety, but after a long conference the officials determined that Brusly had gained possession during the scramble and fumbled into the end zone, resulting in a touchback. On the next play, Dantzler broke to the right sideline and outran the Brusly defenders on his 80-yard scoring run.
“I was just happy to get out of here with a win,” Dantzler said. “This is probably my best game for rushing yards. Brusly has a great defense and a great team.
STA’s special team’s scored the first touchdown when they blocked Brusly’s first punt and Carlos Bell strolled in for the score.
After Dantzler’s touchdown run, the Panthers tallied 19 unanswered points on Holliday’s 5- yard run, a 7-yard pass from Holliday to Dupont, and a 48-yard scoop-and-score fumble recovery by Klay Clopton.
Brusly had problems with extra points, getting only one on a kick by Adam Rivaut after first touchdown.