No. 19 Brusly fell short of a victory over No. 3 Union Parish in the second round of Division 3A playoffs Friday night.
The Panthers, who took the lead in the fourth quarter, began to taste victory, but had it viciously stripped away in a devastating 25-13 loss to the Farmers.
Both the Panthers and the Farmers entered Friday night’s competition ready to battle, resulting in a fierce defensive struggle and offensive tug-of-war for the first touchdown, which didn’t take place until the second quarter.
Union Parish’s defense not only held Brusly’s offense through most of the first half, but caused Brusly to fumble four times just in the first half, three of which were recovered by the Farmers.
Union Parish earned the first points of the game with a six-yard touchdown. Brusly’s Zavian Bell prevented the two point conversion with a timely tackle, which later played an instrumental role in allowing Brusly to take the lead.
The score at the half stood at 6-0.
With the Panthers stagnant on offense, their defense had to step up in a major way. Montel Williams’ tackle caused Union Parish quarterback Jarmarius Williams to fumble, allowing Caleb Henderson to recover the ball for Brusly. But the offense remained stagnant, quickly giving the ball back to the Farmers.
On their next possession, Union Parish’s quarterback Jarmarius Williams scrambled 30 yards, diving and flipping over defenders to score another touchdown for the Farmers, adding to their lead 12-0.
Brusly began to rally as senior quarterback Blake Manola’s arm helped them reach the end zone for the first time. Junior wide receiver Jaylon Green caught a 15-yard pass from Manola and managed an additional 34-yard dash across the field, bringing the Panthers to the five-yard line. Manola then connected, again, with Green for a Panther touchdown.
Joshua Oubre added to Brusly’s growing momentum with a sack on Williams on the Farmers’ first down, which was the beginning of a short drive by Union Parish.
Manola was once again the Panther’s spark as Brusly pushed steadily down the field until he was able to break through the defensive line and score a 39-yard touchdown for the Panthers. Manola’s extra point put Brusly ahead for the first time in the game, 13-12 with only 7:36 remaining in the game.
“I thought we could hold them,” said Coach Erik Willis. “I had faith in the guys. I felt like we had momentum going, but obviously their quarterback had other plans.”
On their next drive, Union Parish’s Williams brought his team out of the one-point deficit despite Brusly’s building momentum and a sack by Montel Williams and Carlsel Alexander for a five yard loss.
Union Parish went on to quickly score a 22-yard touchdown, which they followed with a 21-yard touchdown in the final minute of the game, resulting in the final score of 25-13.
In spite of the loss, coach Willis said he was pleased with his team’s performance.
“I thought we played the best football we could play,” said Willis. “Our kids just got stronger as the game went on. I was very impressed with their efforts.”
The Farmers will play 11th seeded Kaplan Friday, November 29 at Union Parish in the third round of state playoffs. Kaplan defeated sixth seeded Richwood last Friday. The winner of that game will play the winner between Amite and North Webster.