POWER PLAY. Junior Brandon Bush muscles through a group of defenders for a big gain. photo/Diego Salisbury
GOT JERSEY? Junior Brandon Bush powers through a group of defenders for a big gain. photo/Diego Salisbury
POWER PLAY.  Junior Brandon Bush muscles through a group of defenders for a big gain on first down. photo/Diego Salisbury

In the dwindling minutes of the game, hearts were racing, sweat was flowing and the audience was screaming. The Braves defense was facing its toughest test all game with just about everything on the line.

The 63rd annual Battle of the Barrel, pitting the Boone Braves (6-3) and the Edgewater Eagles (6-3) against each other, had just as much build up as the rivalry usually does and it didn’t let down. With a close matchup of an old-school running game against a tough defense, the game had both teams unsure of the outcome.

The Eagles got a quick opportunity to score, but the the defense held them to nothing in the redzone. However, Edgewater was the first to score, on a rushing touchdown from the 1-yard line, after a high snap on a punt.

Senior Thomas Verzi III led a masterful drive in response to the Edgewater score, and junior Brandon Bush scored on a 30-yard option play to tie the score at 7-7.

The impressive rush attack riled up the defense and they stopped the opposition for a three and out giving possession back to Verzi and Bush. The offense picked up right where they left off stringing together a fast touchdown drive, with a 35-yard reception by junior Sheldon Fox and a 15-yard rushing score by Bush.

The defense couldn’t hold on to the momentum forever, though, and the Eagles tied the game, 14-14, on a passing touchdown to end the second quarter.

Any questions that Edgewater’s last drive before halftime had deflated Boone’s momentum were silenced, as the offense marched down the field on a quick drive capped by Verzi’s 20-yard rushing touchdown.

Just as ready to play was the defense, and they held strong yet again in the red zone causing a turnover on downs.

Starting deep in his own territory, Verzi turned it around on the defense with a 52-yard completion up the middle to junior Tyree Jones. The Eagles couldn’t keep up with Verzi’s hurry-up offense and he found a gap in the secondary for another long touchdown run. After a missed PAT, the Braves lead was now 27-14.

The opposition was down, but not out and they scored on a rushing touchdown of their own, reducing the lead to 27-21.

With time trickling down in the fourth quarter, the Braves slowly moved up field and a long field goal by Jonathan De Lucca put the team up 30-21.

The Eagles found a way to counter again with more offense of their own, this time scoring on a floating touchdown pass with five minutes left in the game. This put the at 30-28.

Verzi and the offense tried to waste time with a two point lead, but the Edgewater defense had other plans forcing a punt with a little more than three minutes left in the game.

The defense needed a stop in crunch time and they started out well, but a long run by an Edgewater running back brought the Eagles within field goal range with only a minute left. The Eagles wasted time, inching closer and closer to the goal line until they finally scored on a running play with 10 seconds left.

Two hail mary attempts later, the Eagles were victorious took the barrel after three years without it. Verzi had two rushing touchdowns on the night, as did Brandon Bush, but the defense couldn’t stop the Eagles ground-and-pound rushing style. Boone lost 30-34, with other notable performances by Sheldon Fox, Tyree Jones, and sophomore Carver Reeves.

Come out and support the Braves in the playoffs as they play at West Orange on Nov. 13 at 7:30 pm.

By Parker Fluke

I'm a senior at Boone and the Sports Media Manager of the Legend Yearbook

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