(Franklin, GA) — The Heard County Braves fell to the state’s top ranked team in Class AA Rockmart Friday by a final score of 47-14, but the score was not entirely indicative of the home squad’s performance as the defending Class AA Champion Braves actually led the contest 14-13 at halftime.
The Braves did exactly what they needed to do in the first half of the game — controlling the ball and the clock with a couple of long drives led by a rushing attack featuring Jai Wright and Ashton Bonner.
Wright scored the first TD on a short burst in the first quarter to tie the game at 7-7 and Bonner’s touchdown came with just 36 seconds to play in the half.
The Brave defense also proved effective in holding one of the state’s best offensive attacks to just 13 first half points. Senior Tray Owens led the Braves up front while Micaiah Austin and Will Finch came up with a big sack in the first quarter.
The Braves defense also blocked an attempted field goal by Rockmart early in the contest. Unfortunately for the Braves, the first half success came with at a price as several Braves were banged up and had to leave the game near the half including Wright and quarterback Leroy Marsh.
Back-up QB Isaiah O’Neal led the offense for the second scoring drive and much of the second half.
Most of the injured were able to return to gut it out the second half but were obviously far below being at full speed leaving the door open for a talented Rockmart squad to take over the game in the third quarter.
Many of the younger Brave players got some game experience late in the fourth quarter.
The Brave captains for the title rematch included seniors Qua Thornton and Colson Jiles, the junior Bonner, and freshman Tyler Lasseter.
Head coach Tim Barron was pleased to see his team show so much fight and execution especially in the first half of the game despite all the injuries that included leading junior Alex Boyd who was unavailable to play at all.
“You know it’s tough when you come into a game already short-handed with injuries and then you just get more injuries and you just don’t have depth to start with — but you did see what these guys can be when they are fresh and they are healthy — they can be a typical Heard County team,” said Barron after the game.
“It’s just too much when you’re playing the No. 1 team in the state of Georgia they are pretty dang good. But they battled as long as you can and as hard as you can and that is all you can ask those kids to do. We’ve got to get healthy and get some guys back and we’ve got to get in better shape and those things have to happen.”
The Braves (0-3) will face the final non-region test of the season when they travel up Hwy 27 to Central of Carrollton this Friday night for another 7:30 PM kickoff versus the Lions (1-2). The Lions lead the all-time series versus the Braves 4-3, but the Braves have won the last three in a row.