The South Charleston Black Eagles used big plays and a fourth quarter defensive stand to secure a spot in next Saturday’s AAA football championship with a 29-28 victory over Brooke Saturday afternoon at Laidley Field in Charleston. Speedy receiver Perry Henry pulled in screen passes and scored two touchdowns. One from 71 yards and the other from 60 yards as he broke through a stingy Brooke defense. The Bruins did what they wanted to offensively. They were able to move the ball on the ground against SC.
Brooke held several leads in the game, but three touchdowns were followed by three missed extra points, which was a big factor in the final outcome. South Charleston led 12-9 late in the first half and Brooke picked up a key first down in its own territory. The Bruins could have chosen to run the clock out with 1:22 left in the half, but instead Coach Tom Bruney decided to pass on the very next play. The ball was tipped and intercepted by Henry. South Charleston was able to score a touchdown on a pass from quarterback Tyler Harris to receiver Emerson Gagnon to stretch the lead to 19-9. Brooke scored twice in the third quarter and SC once. The Black Eagles got a key field goal from Dakota Sanders in the 4th.
The Bruins had a chance on a final drive trailing by one. They moved the ball into SC territory, but the clock had moved inside 2:00 and Brooke was forced to begin passing the football. The Black Eagles defense was ready. It recorded two sacks and an incomplete pass to secure the victory. The game was played under a cloud of controversy with four key SC players on the field following a temporary restraining order from a Kanawha County circuit judge after the players were suspended following the game-ending fight in the quarterfinal win over Hurricane.
All four players including Henry, Harris, Gagnon and linebacker Travon Reese played key roles in the Brooke victory. Brooke coach Bruney would not allow his players to shake hands with South Charleston when the game was over. Bruney sent his players off the field, but decided to watch the SC celebration himself before leaving the playing surface.
South Charleston coach John Messinger said after the game that if the shoe was on the other foot he would have wanted to face Brooke’s best players. South Charleston, who will face Martinsburg next Saturday in Wheeling, can be the first three-peat champion in AAA since Charleston High School 1968-70.