The Pickens Dragons had a memorable Homecoming game on Friday night against the Johnson Knights, as the Dragons outscored the Knights 28-7 in the second half of the game on their way to a 49-21 victory.The opening drive of the game for the Dragons gave the fans in the stands hope for a big night thanks to a twelve-play, 98-yard drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown run by quarterback Tanner Brumby to put Pickens up 7-0. The Dragons’ defense then got the job done on the Knights’ drive following the Brumby score, which ended on a fake punt that failed to convert after four plays of offense.
The next Dragons’ drive was significantly slowed down by a false start penalty, and after five plays it ended with a punt by Tanner Brumby that rolled to the Knights’ 14-yard line. The defense then made a great play on the first play of the Johnson Gainesville drive, forcing a fumble that was recovered by defender Tyjai Howell on the 21-yard line.
Unfortunately for the Dragons, they were unable to increase their lead on this drive due to a great read by Dre Johnson on Tanner Brumby’s pass attempt on third and goal. Johnson intercepted Brumby’s pass in the end zone and returned the ball 100 yards to tie the game 7-7 with 1:20 remaining in the first quarter.
Pickens’s next possession was greatly hindered by two penalties and two incomplete passes, resulting in a punt after three plays. Although the defense did hold the Knights and forced a quick punt to give the offense the ball back, it was much of the same for the Dragons on their next time out, as they punted again after five plays.
Johnson’s offense came out following the punt prepared to make plays, which they did on a eight-play, 86-yard drive that was capped off with a 41-yard rushing touchdown to give the Knights a 14-7 lead with a little under two minutes left in the second quarter.
Did the big drive by the Knights dismay the Dragons? It sure didn’t seem that way, because the first play of the following drive saw Tanner Brumby loft a perfect pass to Shannon Brooks, who made a clean catch and outran the remaining Johnson defenders for a 54-yard touchdown pass, tying the game 14-14 with 2:44 remaining in the first half.
The defense, apparently feeling challenged thanks to the big play by the offense, made a huge play of its own, forcing a fumble and recovering the ball on the 20-yard line.
Now in a position to regain the lead, Pickens wasted no time in crossing the goal line for the third time on this night, running just two plays before Shannon Brooks made another reception and dragged a Johnson defender all the way to the end zone, putting Pickens ahead 21-14.
Following a quick three-and-out by the Knights’ offense, Tanner Brumby and company took over on their own 14 yard-line with a chance to pad their lead before halftime. Their chances of doing so looked great following a 59 yard pass from Brumby to Titus Henderson to set the team up with excellent field position, but a fumble on the 22-yard line ended any chance of this happening.
Johnson’s offense then ran out the remaining sixteen seconds of the clock and headed to the locker room trailing Pickens 21-14.
Following the end of the first half came the Homecoming festivities for the 2012-2013 school year, featuring two female representatives from the freshman class, three from the sophomore class, four from the junior class, and five from the senior class.
Once all of the girls had taken their spots on the field and all of the photos were taken, it was announced that senior Ellie Miller was selected as homecoming queen and junior Katherine Woody was selected as maid of honor.
The second half of the game started off with the Knights starting off on a hot streak that quickly cooled off, which led to a punt after ten plays. Pickens hit the field feeling the need to score again, a feeling that came to fruition thanks to a Tanner Brumby-to-Shannon Brooks 39 yard touchdown connection that provided Pickens with a 28-14 lead.
This lead wouldn’t stand at fourteen for very long, as the Knights responded with a seven-play, 51-yard drive that ended with a 27 yard touchdown pass from Paul Barker to Luis Hernandez, cutting the Dragons’ advantage to 28-21 with 1:56 to go in the third quarter.
Pickens answered the Johnson score yet again, putting together a five-play, 73-yard drive that ended on a 26-yard scamper by Shannon Brooks to push the lead to 35-21.
The game-clinching play for Pickens would come on the Knights’ next possession on the first play of the first quarter, when Dragons’ safety Ty Prather read Barker’s pass attempt like a book, made the interception, and returned it for a touchdown, giving the Dragons a comfortable 42-21 lead.
The Johnson offense returned to the field desperately needing to score, but this time another Prather, outside linebacker Colton Prather, made the key play of this drive, tackling Barker in the backfield to force another punt by the Knights.
Looking to keep the scoreboard operator busy, Pickens turned to Kalyn Brooks, brother of starting running back Shannon Brooks, to carry the workload for the team’s next possession. Kalyn obliged the opportunity, taking carries on eight of the eleven plays the Dragons would run and scoring his first touchdown of the season on a 3 yard run to put Pickens ahead 49-21 with 4:04 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Down four touchdowns with just four minutes left in the game, the Knights opted to milk the clock and call it a night, leading to the Dragons winning by the final score of 49-21.
Dragons head coach Chris Parker made a very good point about the win following last week’s tough loss to the Gilmer Bobcats, saying in part that it was important for the players to move on so that
“you don’t let the same team beat you twice”
Coach Parker also talked about the team’s second half scoring outburst, saying
“Most of [our offense] is geared towards wearing someone down. It’s not really surprising that our points come in bunches; we just have to do a better job overcoming the lull periods when we aren’t scoring and just stay confident.”
Pickens picked apart Johnson throughout the game, made obvious by the team’s 522 yards of offense in the game (286 through the air, 236 on the ground).
Tanner Brumby led the way in the passing game for Pickens, completing eighteen passes on twenty-nine attempts for 278 yards with 3 touchdowns and only 1 interception. Brumby set two passing records for the Dragons in the victory, breaking Brady Burns’ record for passing yards in a season (1,147 in 1997) and Kent Belvins’ mark for passing yards in a career (2,013 from 1967-1968). Brumby also had 12 carries for 110 yards and one touchdown in the win.
Shannon Brooks showed yet again why he’s such a valuable asset to the Dragons’ offense, finishing the game with 12 carries for 98 yards and 1 touchdown along with 7 receptions for 138 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Titus Henderson made the most out of his opportunities in the passing game, as he led the team with 6 receptions for 127 yards.
The victory moves the Dragons to 5-3 on the season with a 2-1 record within the 7-AAAA Division A sub-region and a 3-3 record in the entire 7-AAAA region, leaving Friday’s Senior Night game against River Ridge as very crucial in terms of whether or not Pickens will return to the playoffs for the first time since 2005.