BREVARD, N.C. – With its back against the wall, down six and in the final minutes of regulation, the Brevard College football team (6-2, 4-2 USAS) strung together an eight-play, 58-yard drive that was capped off with a 36-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Dalton Cole to fellow sophomore wide receiver Blake Taylor. Stamati Damalos' extra point followed by a game-sealing interception from junior defensive back Wesley Ross locked up Brevard's sixth victory of 2019, as the Tornados dropped preseason USA South Conference favorite Averett University (6-3, 4-2 USAS), 10-9, on Senior Night at Brevard Memorial Stadium.
With the victory, the Brevard College Tornados improve to a 6-2 overall record and a 4-2 mark in USA South play. BC's six victories thus far in 2019 are the second-most in the school's NCAA-era history, trailing only the 2009 squad who tallied seven regular-season victories. With one more game left in its regular season, Brevard College could tie the best win total in program history.
The Tornados' four wins in conference play set the program's new record for single-season conference victories. Dating back to 2018, Brevard has won nine of its last 12 games.
"That was exactly the type of game that I expected it to be – an all-out slugfest between two stout teams," commented Head Coach Bill Khayat following his team's 10-9 victory over Averett. "I am absolutely thrilled for our four seniors that they were able to achieve a win in their final home game."
Saturday's victory was sparked by a stout defense that held one of the best offensive attacks in the USA South to just nine points on three field goals. Brevard has not allowed a touchdown in its last eight quarters of action this season.
Brevard's stellar defensive performance was credited to an all-around team effort by Defensive Coordinator Luke Jaicks' unit.
BC was led in tackles by junior defensive back Dante Anderson, who was credited 11 tackles throughout the course of the game. Junior Stefan Canady tallied five tackles, three quarterback hurries, and a sack to bring his 2019 total to seven sacks. Freshman linebacker Dakota Cochran (1.5 sacks) and sophomore linebacker Eddie Dean (one sack) also wrangled down Averett quarterbacks Jacob Wright and Bryce Jackson.
A fumble was forced by Brevard College freshman defensive back Rook Tate, while Ross' last-second interception gave the Tornados 15 as a team this season. Brevard's 15 picks rank first in the USA South and sit top-10 in all of NCAA DIII Football.
Offensively, Brevard's Cole went 13-of-22 passing for 111 passing yards, as the sophomore orchestrated Brevard's game-winning drive. Cortez Scales Jr. hauled in a team-high six catches for 51 yards, setting the sophomore's new single-game career-high for receptions.
Brevard's rushing attack, which netted 87 yards, was paced by Aaron Bennett (46 yards) and Cole (25 yards).
Averett's Cole Westberry got the Cougars on the board first with a 38-yard field goal on the game's first drive. Westberry's field goal would be all the scoring done until midway through the second quarter, as both sides combined for nine consecutive punt attempts to end drives.
Following a five-play, 27-yard drive that stalled in Averett territory for the Tornados, BC punter Joe Gullo pinned the Cougars inside the 10-yard-line, as the freshman's punt was fair caught at the Cougars' nine-yard-line.
Averett then proceeded to string together a game-long 12-play, 56-yard drive that ate 4:34 off the clock. However, BC's stout defense made a key stop thanks to back-to-back incomplete passes from the Cougars.
Both sides went three-and-out on their next possessions, giving Brevard the ball back to start the second quarter.
Averett and Brevard then traded two possessions each as drives continued to stall for both sides. The Cougars got within Westberry's striking distance, as Averett lined up to kick a 30-yard field goal following an 11-play, 52-yard drive. However, Averett's record-holding kicker misfired off a lineman, giving Brevard possession back. The Tornados were content to run out the remainder of the first half clock, sending the contest to the intermission with Averett clinging to a three-point lead.
Brevard's lengthy seven-play drive that elapsed 4:37 to start the third quarter was stalled, forcing another punt by the Tornados.
Averett strung together an 11-play, 59-yard drive that was capped by Westberry's 39-yard field goal that extended Averett's lead, 6-0.
Brevard junior wide receiver Jamerial Parks ran the ensuing Averett kickoff back 98 yards for what the Tornados thought was their first touchdown of the evening. However, a crucial holding call against Brevard negated Parks' lengthy touchdown return – a return that would have become the all-time longest kickoff return in Brevard's football history.
Following a Damon Rouse rushing attempt, the Cougars' capitalized on a Cole fumble that set Westberry up for his third field goal of the night, a 31-yarder that gave the Cougars a 9-0 advantage. However, Brevard's defense remained tough, keeping Averett's high-octane offense out of the end zone throughout the contest.
The Tornados decided to go for their first fourth-down attempt of the evening in the opposing Cougars' territory. Averett's defense stopped Brevard short of the line to gain, giving the Cougars possession back.
Both sides traded punts on their first drives of the fourth quarter before Brevard's defense found a major breakthrough. Averett's Westberry botched a punt snap, resulting in a turnover-on-downs that set the Tornados up in prime field position.
The Tornados were able to capitalize, as Damalos hit from 35-yards out to get Brevard on the board, 9-3.
Averett's seven-play, 24-yard drive on the Cougars' ensuing possession ate 3:24 off the clock, however, Brevard's defense rose to the occasion when BC's Tate broke up a Wright pass to force fourth down. Following a 26-yard Westberry punt, Cole and the Brevard offense got one last chance to come back with 3:38 remaining on the clock.
An eight-yard connection from Cole to Scales Jr. set up Rouse to rush for three yards to pick up the third-down conversion. Cole connected with Scales Jr. yet again on third down, as the Tornados quickly made up for a shaky 2-for-11 third-down conversion rate by achieving back-to-back third-down conversions on the game's most crucial drive.
Following a Cole incompletion on first-and-10 that was intended for Taylor, Cole went right back to his fellow sophomore wide receiver, who caught Cole's strike and withstood a goal-line hit to tie the game at 9 points apiece.
Following Brevard's third and final timeout, Damalos stepped up and drilled the point-after-try, giving the Tornados a 10-9 advantage with 52 seconds left.
Following a Chris Francis 24-yard kickoff return that set the Cougars inside Brevard territory at the BC 44 yard-line. Wright threw back-to-back incompletions, followed by Ross' pick that sealed the Tornados' 10-9 triumph over USA South preseason favorite Averett University.
The Tornados wrap up their 2019 regular season with a Saturday, November 16 trip to in-state foe Greensboro College. Kickoff between the Tornados and Pride is set for 1 p.m.
After Brevard's regular-season finale, the Tornados will wait and see if they have qualified for an ECAC Football Postseason Bowl Game. The ECAC announcement date is set for the evening of Monday, November 18.
2019 marks the last year that Brevard College is ineligible for NCAA postseason qualification in any of the school's 17 NCAA-sponsored sports. The Tornados in 2019 can qualify for a conference championship, individual weekly awards, and postseason awards within the USA South Conference.
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