BREVARD, N.C. – Despite a fourth-quarter comeback led by sophomore quarterback Jacob Gravett, the Brevard College Tornados Football team (1-5, 1-3) fell in heartbreaking fashion as a 16-play, 92-yard drive came up just short. N.C. Wesleyan (4-2, 3-1) prevailed by a final score of 29-21 on Saturday afternoon at Brevard Memorial Stadium.
Three costly fumbles proved too much to come back from for Brevard, which dropped its second consecutive USA South Conference contest.
The overcast-turned-sunny afternoon started out well for the Tornados. The Brevard defense, led by defensive coordinator Kurt Gouveia, forced an N.C. Wesleyan three-and-out. On the ensuing Brevard possession, freshman starting quarterback Dalton Cole fired a 16-yard pass to Brandon Norris (second TD catch of 2018) to give the Tornados an early advantage after a successful PAT try by Jose Flores.
The Battling Bishops would not be denied on their following possession. Starting quarterback Nate Gardner would connect with Ben Dorfman for a 12-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 7-7.
After a Brevard three-and-out, the Battling Bishops sent a 33-yard field goal through the uprights to extend their lead to 10-7.
Led by Cole, the Brevard offense would string together a 12-play, 64-yard drive that extended into the second quarter. This lengthy possession would end in a 27-yard touchdown pass to Cortez Scales Jr. to mark the freshman's first career touchdown grab/ Brevard would hold a 13-10 advantage after a missed Flores extra point attempt.
N.C. Wesleyan kicker Caleb Mann drilled his second field goal of the day on the next drive, hitting a 36-yard field goal to tie the game at 13-13.
The game took a turn for the south for Brevard on the ensuing possession. Cole fumbled after a sack by Keyandre Smith. This resulted in a fumble recovery by Battling Bishop's Rob Carley, setting up N.C. Wesleyan in BC territory.
The Battling Bishops would capitalize on this costly mistake, as Gardner connected with Dorfman for a second time on the afternoon, finding the end zone on a four-yard strike to put N.C. Wesleyan on top 20-13.
On the very next Tornados' drive, N.C. Wesleyan forced another fumble, this time a 50-yard scoop and score by Antonio Johnson after he sacked Cole. The Battling Bishops would hold a 26-13 advantage heading into halftime after a missed extra-point attempt by Mann.
Brevard started the third quarter with Gravett under center. The second-year quarterback from Paulding, Ga. logged his third action of 2018, also making appearances against Maryville and Huntingdon.
Things started slowly for the Brevard offense in the second half, as three straight (two punts, one turnover-on-downs) came up short for the Tornados. Neither team managed a score in the third quarter.
The Battling Bishops carried a nine-play, 57-yard drive into the fourth quarter, however, were forced to punt. Freshman Blake Taylor muffed the punt by Gardner, setting up N.C. Wesleyan inside the red zone with 13:01 left to play.
Gouveia's defense answered the call of duty, as the BC defense forced NCW to send the kicking unit onto the field. Mann drilled a 26-yard field goal to extend the Battling Bishop lead to 29-13, however still a two-possession contest.
The Brevard offense kicked things into high gear. Led by Gravett and senior wide-receiver Bubba Craven, BC compiled a seven play, 78-yard drive which ended in a 14-yard touchdown pass to Craven. An Aaron Bennett two-point conversion attempt was successful, cutting the NCW lead to 29-21.
BC's defense came up big once again, forcing the Battling Bishops to punt once again. Brevard regained possession at its own three-yard line with 5:03 remaining in regulation.
Gravett, Craven, and the rest of the BC offense marched down the field. Gravett took matters into his own hands, rushing eight times total on the final possession.
Brevard faced a 4th-and-4 at the NCW six-yard line when Gravett kept it himself, coming up just short at the one-yard line. After a quarterback sneak attempt for no gain, Brevard used its final timeout with 19 seconds left.
BC workhorse running back Bobby Clerisier was stopped just short of the goal line by JT Lichtenberg. The Tornados were forced to hurry up to the line of scrimmage with mere seconds remaining but were denied a scoring opportunity as Lichtenberg thwarted Tyler Gregory's final rushing attempt, sealing the victory for the Battling Bishops.
Both Brevard quarterbacks produced numbers in the passing game. Gravett finished 14-22 (64% completion) with 184 yards passing and one touchdown, adding 50 yards rushing on 11 attempts (all in the second half). Gravett would finish as Brevard's leading rusher. Cole finished Saturday's action 12-18 (67% completion) with 140 yards passing and two touchdowns, yet did lose two fumbles.
Craven asserted himself atop Brevard's receiving charts, hauling in four catches for 72 yards and a touchdown, all coming in the second half. Norris and Scales Jr. added touchdowns receiving.
Trevon Charles added to his impressive 2018 campaign. The Miami, Fla. native tallied 106 yards returning kickoffs (21.2 average) and snagged an interception. Charles would add four tackles, a tackle-for-loss, and a quarterback hurry to his defensive efforts.
Along with Charles, John Burton III led the way for the Brevard defense. Burton tallied seven tackles (three solos, four assists) alongside a tackle-for-loss. Dante Anderson added the lone BC sack in the contest.
Brevard enjoyed its second-highest offensive yardage totals of 2018, compiling 428 total yards of offense.
BC controlled the ball for 34:45, compared to NCW's 25:15 time-of-possession.
The Tornados were flagged for seven penalties totaling 55 yards, compared to N.C. Wesleyan's two penalties for 31 yards.
The Tornados are back at Brevard Memorial Stadium for a matchup against the LaGrange Panthers (2-5, 1-3) next Saturday, Oct. 27. The action is slated to begin at 2 p.m., with gates opening at 12 p.m.
RECORD WATCH: Senior wide receiver Bubba Craven is closing in on the Brevard College all-time career receiving yardage record. The Pleasant Garden, N.C. native is just 40 yards shy of the record held by Eric Watts (2009-12), who amassed 1234 yards receiving during his four-year tenure with the BC Football program.
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