ZACHARY — The home opener for the Zachary Broncos wasn’t the prettiest game, but coach David Brewerton will live with the results.
Zachary defeated the Brandon High (Mississippi) Bulldogs 19-17 in a defensive slugfest Friday night in Zachary.
Despite a slow first half offensively, Zachary pounded the Bulldogs on the ground and scored 13 second-half points to earn its first win of the season. Brandon (3-2) came in as the third-ranked team in Mississippi, according to the Clarion-Ledger’s Super 10 rankings.
The Broncos (1-2) rebounded from a 54-0 loss to powerhouse Deerfield Beach (Florida) in Shreveport.
“I saw a lot of our young guys who had been trying to gain some experience in the last few weeks. I saw them grow up tonight and make a few plays,” Brewerton said. “So many things that we’re used to doing in year’s past with the number of points we’ve scored in the past. We've got to learn how to grind things out sometimes. We've got to score inside the 30 and the red zone. We have to get better on that."
Brewerton said the win was good for his team's confidence.
“I’m pleased on a couple of different levels,” he said. “When you beat a team like that after what took place last week ... very pleased that our guys didn’t hang it up. They fought all week long and they fought for four quarters tonight. It took all four quarters to get it done.”
It was the Logan Fletcher show for Zachary in the first half. Fletcher booted field goals from 39 and 34 yards to give the Broncos a 6-0 lead with 11:12 left in the first half.
The visiting Bulldogs got on the board with 4:31 remaining in the second quarter when Mississippi State commitment Will Rogers found Zailon Johnson wide open in the flat for a 10-yard touchdown.
Mason Walker’s kick made it 7-6.
Brandon’s drive was set up after a muffed punt, which allowed the Bulldogs to start the drive from the Zachary 37.
The Broncos, who trailed 7-6 at halftime, scored on the first drive of the second half. Zachary chewed up 5:52 on the clock and capped the drive with quarterback Keilon Brown’s 13-yard touchdown run.
The 2-point conversion attempt was no good and Zachary led 12-7.
Brandon’s Mason Walker drilled a 37-yard field goal late in the third quarter to cut the Zachary lead to 12-10.
The Bulldogs looked to take a 13-12 lead with 10:39 left, but Walker missed a 25-yard field goal.
Zachary capitalized on the miss and went on a gritty drive that lasted 7:35 that Brown capped with a tough 2-yard run to make it a two-score game and hold Brandon at bay.
“Massive drive,” Brewerton said. “Any time you can go up two scores in the fourth quarter, that’s what you’re looking to do and that was a real gut-wrenching heartfelt drive right there. Getting in on third down when we had to get it done. I’m really proud of our guys.”
Brown led the way on the ground and through the air for the Broncos. The Memphis commitment finished with 129 yards on 27 attempts with two scores. He completed 7 of 13 passes for 74 yards. Running back RJ Allen chipped in with 60 yards on 19 carries.
Rogers completed 13 of 22 passes for 164 yards and a late touchdown to cut the deficit to two points.
Penalties were Brandon’s Achilles' heel with the Bulldogs. Brandon committed a penalty for 12 men on the field on a fourth down that gave Zachary a first down and allowed the Broncos to run out the clock.
Brandon finished the game with 14 penalties for 146 yards.
“We just didn’t play real sharp,” Brandon coach Tyler Peterson said. “Way too many penalties. Two touchdowns called back for unnecessary foolish deals. Just sloppy play. I thought defensively we played hard, played well, limited their quarterback pretty good. He’s a heck of a player. I think offensively, just have to play a lot cleaner football and play solid across the board.”
Brown complimented the defense and the offensive line on their performance and talked about what the win meant to the team heading into an open week.
“My coach told me you may not think it’s a big win to you, but it’s a big win for this team because we’re really young,” he said. “That was the (No. 3) ranked team in Mississippi and it was a battle. It was a war and we fought and came out with a win.”