By Jeff Banks
Special to the JR
BERRY — The Berry Wildcats jumped out to an early lead and never looked back as they helped the seniors enjoy a 33 point victory over Brilliant 49-16.
Brilliant won the toss and elected to defer to the second half. The Wildcats recovered an onside kickoff attempt by the Tigers on the Berry 49 yard line to begin play. On the first play of the game, Lake Norris took the handoff and wove his way through the Tigers’ defense for a 51 yard touchdown. The Wildcats missed the PAT but led 6-0 with only seven seconds elapsed from the game clock.
Brilliant returned the ensuing kickoff to their 21 yard line and was forced to punt five plays later from its 37. Berry returned the punt to the Wildcats’ 42 yard line to start its next offensive possession.
The Wildcats came out moving the ball on the ground and after a six-play drive, faced first and goal from the Tigers’ 2 yard line. Hudson Naramore powered his way into the end zone for the score. Ace Norris ran for the two-point conversion to make the score 14-0 in favor of the Wildcats.
Brilliant started its next offensive drive on the Tigers’ 31 yard line after the kickoff. The Tigers put together a 12 play drive but turned the ball over on downs at Berry’s 17 yard line.
The Wildcats had an eight-play drive for its next score. A. Norris connected with L. Norris for a 41 yard touchdown pass to conclude the drive. A. Norris added the PAT to increase the Wildcats lead to 21-0.
The Tigers returned to the field on the Brilliant 30 yard line after the kickoff. On the ninth play of the drive, Brilliant got its first score of the game, with Jerry Lothrop scoring on an 8 yard run. Lothrop also ran for the two-point conversion to make the score 21-8 with 35 seconds remaining in the first half.
Berry returned the kickoff to the Tigers’ 48 yard line. Berry needed only one play for its next score of the game. A. Norris connected on a pass with Kemari Hollingsworth, who broke several tackles on his way to the end zone. A. Norris added the PAT to make the score 28-8 with 18 seconds left in the half.
On the ensuing kickoff, Lothrop muffed the catch but was able to pick it up on the Wildcats’ 15 yard line. He then found a seam down the Brilliant sideline and raced 85 yards for the score. Luke Norris added the two-point conversion for the Tigers, and the teams headed to the locker rooms with the score 28-16 in favor of the Wildcats.
Brilliant returned the kickoff to its 13 yard line to begin the second half but was forced to punt after a net gain of one yard on the possession.
The punt went out of bounds and the Wildcats started its first offensive series of the second half on the Berry 30 yard line. The Wildcats needed four plays to cover the 70 yards for its first score of the second half, with L. Norris scoring on a 3 yard run for Berry. A bad snap caused the PAT to be unsuccessful, but the Wildcats led 34-16.
The Tigers again had to punt on its next possession. After the punt, the Wildcats’ offense returned to the field on the Tigers’ 44 yard line. On the second play of the series, A. Norris connected with L. Norris for a 49 yard touchdown reception. A. Norris ran for the two-point conversion to make the score 42-13 .
The Tigers started its next drive on the Brilliant 35 yard line. On the 13th play of the drive, a Brilliant fumble was forced and recovered by Luke McCoy for the Wildcats on the Berry 17 yard line. On the next play, L. Norris scored on an 83 yard run for Berry. A. Norris added the PAT to make the score 49-16 in favor of the Wildcats.
Following a Brilliant punt, Berry had the ball at its 48 yard line. On the fifth play of the series, the Wildcats faced fourth and six at the Tigers’ 15 yard line. The Wildcats decided to attempt a 35 yard field goal, but the kick was wide right and the ball went over on downs to the Tigers.
The Tigers took over on its 20 yard line and ran three plays before time expired in the game, giving the Wildcats a 49-16 victory.
See complete story in the Journal Record.