Just last week, after Brewer lost to Lee-Huntsville 48-28 the week before, Patriots head coach Matt Plunkett said his team was making progress despite its 0-7 record.
Plunkett’s players apparently responded to the faith showed in them by their first-year coach by coming out and grabbing a 28-7 halftime lead at home and holding on for a 43-36 win over Mae Jemison.
And as the ever-optimistic Plunkett noted, it was a 5A, Region 8 win, meaning the Patriots have a mathematical chance to still make the playoffs.
“It’s a tough as it can be mathematically, but we’re still playing for a lot, especially pride,” said Plunkett, an Arab native and former Knights player.
Especially pleasing to Plunkett was that his defense accounted for three touchdowns against Mae Jemison, including one that sealed the game.
After Gonzalo Ramirez caught a 65-yard TD pass from QB Caiden Childers in the first quarter, the Patriots went up by two scores when Walker Latham pick off a pass and returned it 55 yards for a TD.
Will Clemons also picked off a pass and returned it 65 yards for a TD, and Micah Steffen caught a 30-yard scoring pass from Childers as Brewer took a 28-7 lead into halftime.
“They made some adjustments and came out guns a blazing,” Plunkett said.
After the Jaguars scored to make it 28-14, Childers scored on a 1-yard run to push the lead back to 21.
Then Mae Jemison scored and converted the two-point conversion to make it 35-22, then scored again to make it 35-29.
With Mae Jemison driving in the fourth quarter to possibly take a lead, Lee Murray picked off a screen pass and returned it 35 yards for the clinching score.
DJ Burney scored the two-point conversion to make it 43-29. Mae Jemison scored late and got the ball back, but the Patriots stopped the drive and ran out the clock.
“We started out fast and had to hang on at the end,” Plunkett said. “Our defense scored three touchdowns, including one huge TD by Lee Murray to seal the game.
Childers, a junior QB, had a nice game passing, going 10-for-18 for 225 yards.
Unfortunately, he also was the leading rusher, gaining just 25 yards on 25 attempts. The Patriots rushed for only 35 yards on 22 attempts in the game.
“We have to find ways to run ball better so we can take pressure off of Caiden Childers,” Plunkett said. “We are asking Caiden to do a lot.
“He is a really good player who has some weapons developing around him. Caiden has really grown and matured as a quarterback all season. He is playing his best football here down the final stretch.
“We are expecting big, big things from him in the future.”
Murray also led the team in tackles. The Brewer defense allowed 290 yards rushing but only 52 yards passing.
“We have really hard-working kids who are growing up and getting stronger every day,” Plunkett said. “We are learning how to win.
“We are such a young team but I’m really proud of our seniors who stuck with Brewer and never gave up on being a Patriot.
“This first win is a credit to our seniors and I’m excited to get this team ready to play competitive football the final stretch of the season.”
Brewer plays at Fairview next week then ends the season at home on Oct. 22 against Lawrence County.