LAGRANGE, Ga. – The Brevard College football team (5-2, 3-2 USAS) held the LaGrange College Panthers (3-5, 1-4 USAS) to just a field goal as the Tornados claimed a 21-3 victory in a shutdown defensive effort on Saturday afternoon in LaGrange, Georgia.
The victory marked the team's fifth win of the 2019 campaign, guaranteeing Brevard's first winning season since 2009. The five wins are also the most by the Tornados in the last ten seasons.
Brevard's defense stifled the Panthers' offense throughout the contest, stopping LaGrange on four fourth-down attempts in the game.
BC's offense rushed for a season-high 223 yards, led by sophomore running back Damon Rouse. The Charlotte, North Carolina native set his new career-high with 129 yards, averaging 8.6 yards-per-carry.
Sophomore quarterback Dalton Cole threw for 166 yards and added 28 yards on the ground for a total of 194 total yards. Cole connected with junior wide receiver Jamerial Parks (2 catches, 44 yards) for a 42-yard touchdown reception on the Tornados' first drive of the afternoon. Sophomore running back Aaron Bennett added a late touchdown score on the ground to help seal Brevard's victory, while fellow sophomore wide receiver Brandon Norris led Brevard with three catches for 51 yards.
Brevard's defense was paced by junior defensive back Dante Anderson and sophomore linebacker Chris Diaz, who each collected seven tackles. Anderson added a sack, two tackles-for-loss, and a pass breakup to his ledger. BC's Jerome Bass, Isaac Crisp, Toby Naylor, and Wesley Ross tallied a tackle-for-loss, while freshman defensive back Joc Pledger intercepted LaGrange quarterback Brevin Linnell's last-ditched pass on the game's final play to wrap up Brevard's 21-3 triumph.
The Tornado defense proved dominant once again in Saturday's battle, holding LaGrange's offense to an average of 3.8 yards-per-play. Brevard stifled the Panther rushing attack to 125 yards on the ground as well.
On LaGrange's first possession, Brevard's defense forced a three-and-out that gave the Tornados' offense the ball at the 13:24 mark in the first quarter.
After the Brevard offense gained two first downs on its first possession, Cole connected with Parks on a 42-yard touchdown to put the Tornados on the board. Kicker Stamati Damalos' extra point made the score 7-0 in favor of Brevard.
LaGrange gained just 14 yards on Brevard's stout defense on the next possession, forcing the Panthers to punt once again. However, the Tornados were stopped for a three-and-out on the ensuing drive, giving LaGrange the ball back on its own 40-yard line.
The Panthers were able to score their first – and only – points of the afternoon on their next drive, a nine-play, 36-yard drive that resulted in an Alex Rivera 41-yard field goal. LaGrange cut into Brevard's lead with the score, 7-3, as the first quarter neared its end.
The Tornados followed suit with a lengthy drive of their own that ate into the second quarter. However, BC's nine-play, 31-yard drive stalled at the LaGrange 35 yard mark, forcing Brevard to punt once again.
LaGrange saw yet another long drive go by the wayside on the Panthers' next possession. LC went nine plays for 41 yards, however on fourth-and-two were stopped for a turnover-on-downs when Brevard's Wyatt Lankford stuffed Terron Dixon's rushing attempt short of the line to gain.
Both sides traded punts on their next possessions before Brevard extended its lead right before the half. Back-to-back big runs by Rouse (16 yards, 20 yards) set up a six-yard rushing score by Cole that put the Tornados up 14-0 following the Damalos extra point.
On the ensuing LaGrange drive, the BC defense once again came up big. On fourth-and-six from the Brevard 42 yard line, LaGrange's passing attempt was broken up by Lankford, as Brevard's Steffon Canady was credited the quarterback hurry on the pivotal fourth-down stop. The contest went into the half with a 14-3 advantage at the break.
Brevard got the ball to open the second half and strung together a seven-play, 48-yard drive. However, the Tornados were stopped on fourth-and-one deep in LaGrange territory to end the promising drive.
Both teams traded punts on their next possessions. On LaGrange's ensuing drive, BC sophomore Eddie Dean blocked the Panthers' punt to give the Tornados the ball at the LaGrange 35-yard line.
The Tornados drove the ball down to the three-yard line on their ensuing possession, however, a missed 20-yard field goal kept the score at 14-3 in favor of Brevard.
After the next possessions for both teams ended in a punt, LaGrange was stopped on fourth down for the third time in the contest. On fourth-and-goal on the Brevard four-yard line, BC's Ross broke up a Linnell pass in the end zone to preserve Brevard's 14-3 lead.
Following a Brevard punt, LaGrange's next drive resulted in four-straight incomplete passes for yet another fourth-down stop for the Tornado defense.
Starting at the LaGrange 40-yard line, the Tornados' offense iced the contest with a few big runs by Jamie Turner, followed by Bennett's 23-yard scamper and Damalos' extra point that extended BC's lead, 21-3.
Pledger's interception on the contest's final play – which gave the freshman defensive back his team-leading third pick of 2019 – guaranteed Brevard's first winning regular season in 10 seasons.
Brevard now sets its sights on Senior Day, where four Brevard College seniors – Brandon Crawford, Quentin Jackson, Ralph Roman III, and Josh Romero – will be honored for their time as BC student-athletes. The Tornados will square off with USA South foe Averett University (6-2, 4-1 USAS) on Saturday, November 9 at 5 p.m. at Brevard Memorial Stadium.
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