If there’s one stat that coaches will bank on for their team’s success, it is turnovers. On Friday night at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex, turnovers completely changed the dynamic in Guyer’s 35-14 win over Braswell.
In the blink of an eye, it seemed, a close game in the second quarter turned into a blowout — mirroring the events of the teams’ 2020 meeting — as Guyer capitalized on an interception and then recovered the ensuing kickoff in the end zone to turn what had been a one-score game late in the first half into a 28-7 margin going into the half.
“We’ve been opportunistic all year, defensively,” Guyer coach Rodney Webb said. “This defense has really carried us the majority of the year, and they did so tonight.”
Much like last year, Braswell (4-3, 1-2 District 5-6A) had its chances early but that opportunistic Guyer (7-0, 3-0) defense had other plans.
Guyer held a 14-7 lead but missed a 45-yard field goal attempt. Three plays into the next Braswell drive, Marquan Pope stepped in front of pass and rumbled down to the Braswell 5.
On the next play, Grayson O’Bara took the sweep from Jackson Arnold to make it a two-score game.
Depending on what team you were rooting for at this point, it was either a series of fortunate or a series of unfortunate events. On the ensuing kickoff, Braswell’s Austin Kiser had a bouncing ball ricochet off his arm and roll into the end zone.
Guyer’s Caleb Rowe hustled down the field and covered up the ball for the touchdown. A two-point play later and the once-close game was quickly 28-7.
“Those two plays were the turning point in the game,” Webb said. “I know it was a 21-point game, but that was a huge momentum swing in the second quarter.”
From there, the Guyer defense continued to suffocate Braswell’s offense to the tune of four total turnovers, including three interceptions.
It was the second time this season a Guyer opponent turned the ball over four times. Coming into the game, the Wildcats were averaging two takeaways per contest — Friday night’s win only improved upon that.
Braswell coach Cody Moore felt his team played well overall, especially his defense. Braswell held Guyer to its lowest yard total of the season following back-to-back games of 420 yards or more.
“We were really good defensively,” Moore said. “I don’t think I’m going to watch the film and think any differently.”
Braswell responded well in the first quarter to Guyer’s first touchdown on the night. Braswell converted two third downs on the drive just before Jaylon Burton broke off a 44-yard touchdown to even the score.
In the second quarter, the chances were there for Braswell to either take a lead or tie the game, but execution and costly penalties hurt the Bengals.
Just like Webb, Moore attributed the difference in the game to the two mistakes in second quarter.
While it wasn’t the cleanest or prettiest games for Webb, who’s not worried about “style points” during district play, it’s a win in a tough district.
“We’ve got to stack wins together, and that’s all that matters,” Webb said. “We haven’t put together back-to-back great games this season yet, but we’re getting to that point where we’re going to have to.”