The two halves of Strawberry Crest’s showdown with Brandon on Friday night couldn’t have been more different. Luckily for the Chargers, that translated to a 21-14 win in Dover that ended their season on a high note.
Crest’s first win at home in 2019 started with two quarters both teams quickly wanted to forget about. The only scoring play came in the first quarter when, shortly after Crest’s defense made a huge fourth-down stop in its own red zone, the Chargers got the ball back and ended a short drive with a safety coming from an intentional grounding call. To Crest’s credit, the defense forced a quick turnover on downs, Caleb Goodson finished the next offensive series with a punt that pinned the Eagles back on their own five-yard line and Hunter Wilkinson immediately got himself an interception to give Crest the ball back with good field position. Unfortunately for the Chargers, they lost a fumble shortly afterward.
That quarter had five penalties called, which looked like a breeze compared to the 15 flags thrown in the second quarter. Personal fouls on both teams killed momentum on three of their combined five possessions and ensured the score would stay at 2-0 in Brandon’s favor going into halftime.
The third quarter started with Brandon returning the opening kickoff to Crest territory, which led to Antonio Jones catching a 37-yard touchdown pass to give Brandon an 8-0 lead with just under eight minutes left in the third quarter.
But the Chargers got fired up shortly after the catch. First, they shut down the two-point conversion attempt to keep the game within one possession. After returning the ball to their own 44, the Chargers chipped away at the Brandon defense until a Jesse Waldrop catch put them within 11 yards of a score. Goodson got the job done with an excellent throw to Hunter Wilkinson after rolling out to his left to escape pressure and making an off-balance heave to his wideout. Crest got tricky with the two-point conversion by lining everyone up to center D.J. Brannon’s left, which got the Brandon defense to focus on defending a run to that side while Goodson flipped a quick pass to Brannon to tie it up. On Brandon’s next drive, the Chargers made up for allowing a 28-yard run to their goal line by forcing a fumble not he next play, which Crest senior Jake Craig recovered at the Chargers’ five-yard line.
That momentum flipped back to Brandon’s favor with 11 seconds left in the quarter, when a completed pass was fumbled by the receiver and ended up in the arms of Brandon defensive back Jaden Exume, who slipped past all of the Chargers for a touchdown. The Eagles once again tried going for two and couldn’t get past the sea of red jerseys, but held a 14-8 lead all the same.
The third quarter ended with Goodson and Waldrop linking up for a 37-yard completion that put Crest at Brandon’s three-yard line. It took the Chargers several plays to make it happen, but they finally got their first lead of the game with 11:06 left to play when Goodson pulled off a quarterback sneak and Armando Garcia’s PAT kick split the uprights.
After forcing a turnover on downs at their own 46-yard line on the next Brandon drive, Crest running back Bryant Lazare served as the workhorse for that series with five runs called for him in the first six snaps. A personal foul against the Eagles put the Chargers at Brandon’s goal line and Goodson once again snuck into the end zone with 4:39 to go. Garcia’s second PAT of the night was also good and the Chargers suddenly had a 21-14 lead. All they had to do was get one more stop.
Brandon started at Crest’s 49-yard line and Jones quickly got his team to the Chargers’ 13-yard line with a huge catch and run. It was the last big play the Eagles would pull off, as Crest’s defense held steady for four more snaps and forced a turnover on downs with 1:20 left to play and no timeouts left for Brandon to call. Goodson took several knees to put the game away and end this season with a win.