By DAVID MAY
Anyone who went to Friday night’s first-round playoff game between Irving Faustina and host Community Christian School thinking this would be a rout and an early mercy-rule ending was in for a surprise.
Probably no one at Miller Stadium were more surprised than Faustina’s players, coaches and fans. After all, just two weeks ago the Falcons pounded the Warriors, 64-18. This would be an easy win for the Miller Stadium visitors, right?
A much different Warriors team – thanks to the return of several injured CCS players including Isaiah Brazeal, playing for the first time this season, and Samuel Brazeal – took Faustina to the wire before losing the electrifying Texas Christian Athletic Federation private school six-man playoff game, 52-46.
It could be said CCS simply ran out of time. After blocking Faustina’s point-after attempt, the Warriors’ offense had the ball at their 18 with 62 yards to go and 1:18 on the clock. But CCS had just one timeout, and Isaiah Brazeal’s fourth-down run was stopped one-yard short of a first down. Faustina took over and killed the clock to advance.
“We needed to make a block to get a first down there to extend it and get a few more shots,” said CCS head coach Bryan Horton, whose hard-luck team finished the season 1-10. “I would have liked to have had three timeouts and two or three minutes on the clock. I think if we had three minutes on the clock we could have gotten down there.”
One big difference for CCS was Brazeal, who played the entire the game on offense and defense despite not being in football game shape stamina-wise. Also able to go was big man Samuel Brazeal. The difference was night and day from the Warriors team that played the two previous weeks and throughout much of the season. Isaiah Brazeal’s performance showed what could have been for CCS had he been available throughout the season.
The scoring came early and often. Faustina struck first just 50 seconds into the game on a 25-yard touchdown pass to go up 8-0 following a kicked point-after for good for two points in six-man football.
The Warriors answered with a nine-play, 53-yard drive ending with Joby Bradshaw scoring from three yards out. A one-point pass conversion complete to Samuel Brazeal made it 8-7 Faustina.
The Falcons wasted no time scoring again with a 35-yard touchdown pass on their next play to go up 16-7.
Again the Warriors came right back with a touchdown of their own on a drive aided by a 28-yard run by Isaiah Brazeal and a 22-yard pass from Bradley Norman to Samuel Brazeal. Those two teamed up for another completion to cap the march from five yards out. A bad snap on the PAT attempt left CCS trailing 16-13 as the first quarter wound to a close.
A face mask penalty against CCS on Faustina’s next possession quickly moved the ball to the Warrior’s 19-yard line and the Falcons capitalized immediately on a scoring toss to go up 24-13, hoping they were gaining the upper hand and ready to run away from the Warriors.
But it was Isaiah Brazeal who did the next bit of running, scampering 60 yards on CCS’s next play from scrimmage to pull the Warriors to within 24-20.
The game turned at this point. CCS’s defense stopped the Falcons on four downs, helped by an 11-yard sack by Brazeal, to give their offense the ball at the Falcons’ 28. A holding call pushed them back 10 yards, but Norman made a tremendous catch of a ball tipped in the air by a Falcons defensive back who fell to the ground, allowing Norman to gather the ball and turn it into a 41-yard scoring play. Bradshaw ran the point-after into the end zone to give CCS a shocking 27-24 lead midway through the second quarter.
Again, the CCS defense stopped Faustina on four downs that included Norman’s tremendous effort batting away a downfield pass attempt on fourth down. CCS’s offense took over on the Falcons’ 37. On a fourth-and-17 play, Norman hit Brazeal for a 39-yard scoring strike. The point after failed, but CCS now found itself leading heavily favored Faustina 33-24.
The Warriors were not done. On the Falcon’s next play, Norman picked off a pass and returned it to Faustina’s 27 where the Warriors offense went back to work. Runs by Bradshaw and Brazeal picked up 16 yards, and Samuel Brazeal hauled in a pass and tumbled across the front corner of the end zone to put CCS up 39-24 with just 4 minutes left in the second stanza.
Faustina then hit on a 19-yard scoring pass that, with a successful PAT kick, made the score 39-32 in favor of CCS, the score the two teams would take into their respective locker rooms at halftime.
The second half turned
into one of missed opportunities for the Warriors. Taking the ball to open the third, CCS fumbled in Faustina territory, but the defense held the Falcons, giving CCS the ball at their 27. However the Warriors were unable to gain a first down, setting up the Falcons’ offense at the Warriors’ 38.
In seven plays, the last on fourth-and-goal at the CCS 7-yard line, Faustina connected on a pass for a touchdown. A two-point conversion kick put the Falcons back up, 40-39.
CCS’s next drive also ended with a fumble, coming on the first play of the fourth quarter. Taking over at their own 18, the Falcons moved back down the field, scoring on a 25-yard pass play. The failed PAT made it 46-39 Faustina with 7:50 to play.
Right back came the Warriors. A 42-yard pass from Bradshaw to Isaiah Brazeal gave CCS a first-and-goal at the Faclcons’ 9, and big Samuel Brazeal would score on a one-yard blast up the middle. Brazeal also caught a pass for a one-point conversion that tied the score at 46 with 3:34 to play.
The Falcons fumbled on their ensuing possession that was almost recovered at midfield by CCS. But Faustina reovered and finished the drive with a one-yard scoring toss to go up 52-46. Up six, Horton wanted a block on the point-after kick attempt, imploring his defenders to get to the kicker. They did, blocking the kick to keep it a six-point game with 1:18 to play.
But a nine-yard pass followed two incompletions, and on fourth down Brazeal attempted to sweep right, needing to pick up six yards for a first down. He was only able to gain five before being hauled to the leaf-covered Miller Stadium turf, and the upset alarm was turned off as the Falcons took over and ran out the clock.
“We came back,” said Horton. “They are a tough team to stop. They do some things with the ball, spreading the field, speed down the field. We are weak against that pass defense when you spread the field like that.”
Horton praised his team’s effort while looking ahead some to next year.
“I am real proud of these guys,” he said. “They played a tough schedule this year. You are still looking at a real young team. I am graduating one kid. I have to find a quarterback next year. We are hoping one walks in the door. I have a powerful running game coming back. But I am real proud of these guys.”
By DAVID MAY
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