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Baldwin Braves drop second consecutive game

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The Baldwin football team (1-2) dropped its second consecutive game after being outscored by Brookwood (2-1) 59-34 on Friday night in Snellville.

The Braves had a whirlwind of a week and were supposed to play Southwest High School (Macon) in their home opener. However, that matchup was canceled due to COVID-19 reasons within the Patriots’ program. Meanwhile, Brookwood’s game against Walton was dropped from its schedule due to the same reason. So, the two schools came to an agreement three days prior to last Friday.

Nevertheless, Brookwood didn’t skip a beat on offese against Baldwin after thumping Dacula High School 44-7 the week before. The Broncos were led by quarterback Dylan Lonergan. The four-star signal caller lit up the scoreboard as he threw for five touchdowns against the Braves’ defense.

Baldwin head coach Jesse Hicks acknowledged that he’s just happy that his team got to compete.

“I’m just really glad that our kids got a chance to play,” Hicks told the Baldwin Bulletin. “We knew it was going to be a challenge to play a 7A team, especially on a short week, but we played Ware (County) the week before. So, competing against great teams from larger qualifications will make it easier for our kids once the playoffs come around in a few months.”

The Braves were able to hang around with the 7A powerhouse for most of the first half.

Baldwin had a key turnover on its opening drive and Brookwood responded by scoring first on a long 30-yard pass from Lonergran to tight end Stone Bonner. The Braves responded by returning to ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown to tie the game, 7-7. Brookwood then had a costly fumble, which Baldwin capitalized on by scoring on the next drive to go up 13-7.

Nevertheless, Lonergan and the Broncos’ offense didn’t quit.

The junior then found Jason Thisdale for his second touchdown pass of the night, which gave the Braves a 14-13 lead. On the next drive, Braves’ quarterback Solomon Burney was intercepted by Brookwood’s Shaman Lewis. Lonergan then found his third different receiver for a touchdown to lead 21-13 early in the second quarter. The Broncos’ 24 total points in the second quarter proved to be the difference maker because they never looked back after that.

Despite Baldwin giving up nearly 60 points, Hicks was proud of the way his team battled against a “historically great program” like Brookwood.

“Every year we put teams on our schedule that we think will challenge us,” Hicks said. “If you’re going to compete against playoff-caliber teams, you better start playing against them in September and October. That way are kids are fine-tuned and ready to go. I think it’s going to help this team realize their potential.”

The Baldwin offense put up more points on Brookwood’s defense than any other team this year. The Braves’ were able to be explosive in the run game and caused problems for the Broncos’ front-seven all night. However, a few key turnovers and penalties turned out to be costly for Baldwin. Still, it’s a great indicator for the coaching staff on what needs to be fixed before region play starts.

Hicks said that he thinks those mishaps can be fixed in the coming weeks.

“We scored 34 points on a great 7A defense,” he added. “I think we can score points on anybody, no matter what region or classification. However, we just played very bad defensively and did some things that are not indicative of what we normally do. If a team can put points on the board, then the defense needs to make some stops. That just didn’t happen last week.”

Hicks pointed out that his skill players really set the tone for the offense moving forward.

“I think we have a bunch of great skill players who can actively do a lot of things on the field,” he said. “The great thing is that we’re pretty stout upfront, too. When you’ve got great skill kids and an offensive line, you can create a new line of scrimmage. It makes things a whole lot easier for us as coaches.”

The Braves’ defense has a bye week this week to make adjustments and rest up before region play starts on Friday, Sept. 24 against Westside in Augusta.

“I don’t think Brookwood didn’t anything that was spectacular,” Hicks said. “We had three different busts in coverages, which made it easy for them to score. That’s something we’ve never really had a problem with. We have a great group of guys that have been playing together for three or four years. So, we are just going to regroup this week and get back to playing consistent, hardnose run-to-the-ball football.”