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Saints fall in first round of playoffs

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Briarcrest’s impressive season came to an end Friday night as the Saints fell 56-35 to McCallie of Chattanooga at home in round one of the Div. II Class AAA football tournament.

Down 7-0 in the first quarter, the No. 2 seeded Saints were in position to tie the game early. However, after marching the ball down to the Blue Tornado’s one-yard line, quarterback Jackson Walker threw an interception that was returned 99 yards for a McCallie touchdown.

Walker had several highs and lows in the game, as he threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns and even chipped in a rushing touchdown. However, the junior also had four interceptions against the McCallie’s aggressive defense.

The Blue Tornado’s defense has been stingy all season long, allowing only two teams to score more than 35 points. They also outscored their 10 regular season foes 376-210.

McCallie scored again less than three minutes into the second quarter, making the score 21-0.

However, Briarcrest stormed back and scored on a pass from Walker to senior receiver Bradley Ellis, who finished the game with 184 yards on 11 catches.

After forcing a fumble, the Saints’ continued to pressure McCallie and senior safety Connor Shamblin was able pick off the quarterback with four minutes left in the half and return the ball for a touchdown.

Briarcrest’s defense held on the next drive, which allowed the offense to score again. The Saints picked up yardage on a pass from Walker to senior running back Tyler Badie, who finished the game with 109 rushing yards on 27 carries. A quarterback sneak play got Walker into the end zone on the next play.

With the score tied at 21-21 going into halftime, the Saints seemed positioned to finally take the lead in the second half.

After marching to McCallie’s side of the field, junior kicker Noah Grant attempted and missed a 33-yard field goal.

That was the last time the Saints threatened to score in the quarter.

Any momentum that Briarcrest had gained after the 21-point outburst in the second quarter began to depart in the third quarter when McCallie scored three unanswered touchdowns.

Briarcrest would finally add numbers to the scoreboard in the fourth quarter with touchdowns from seniors Chandler Montgomery and Hudson Clark. However, the Saints never truly challenged for the lead after McCallie’s uppercut in the third.

The Saints started their season with a 6-0 win streak and only lost one regular season game. Briarcrest tore through the first half of its schedule, outscoring the first six opponents by a combined 249-119 points and remaining unbeaten until a Sept. 29 loss at Christian Brothers.

After the 49-7 speed bump against the flawless Purple Wave (11-0), the Saints finished out the regular season 3-0 and outscored their competition by a combined 105-43.

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