It wasn’t easy, but the Haughton Buccaneers opened the 2018 season with a 35-21 victory over the Minden Crimson Tide on Friday night in Minden.
The Bucs broke a 14-14 tie on Peyton Stovall’s 41-yard touchdown pass to CJ McWilliams late in the third quarter. The TD was set up by a 36-yard pass from McWilliams to Matthew Whitten on a flea flicker.
“We had just stopped them on fourth down and (Whitten) made that big, leaping catch and we scored the very next play,” Brotherton said. “That big catch kind of changed the momentum of the game.”
Haughton then pulled away, eventually building a 35-14 lead. Tristan Sweeney scored on a 14-yard run early in the fourth quarter. An 70-yard interception return by Logan Wilkerson set up the score. The Bucs quickly forced a punt and Keyshawn Davis raced 66 yards for a TD.
“That Minden team fought us,” Brotherton said. “It was 14-14 at one point late in the third quarter and they had the ball on our side of the field and had all the momentum. We showed toughness fighting through that and finishing the game strong. They did a good job also.
“About midway through the third quarter we found our offense and made some big plays and kind of put it away,” Brotherton said.
While the offense had its moments in the game, Brotherton said the defense really stepped up.
“When we were struggling on offense, our defense got stop after stop after stop,” he said. “We kept putting them in bad spots and they still got stops.”
The defense came up with a huge play in the second quarter with Haughton leading 7-0. The Tide was looking to tie the game when Gavin Roe sacked sophomore quarterback Trent McGlaughlin and strippled the ball away. Dylan Frazier scooped it up and went 95 yards for the score. Carter Jensen’s second PAT made it 14-0.
The Bucs’ first TD was set up by a blocked punt. Davis scored from 1 yard out late in the first quarter.
Minden got on the board on a 25-yard pass from McGlauglin to Seth Johnson with just 31 seconds left in the half. Jacareon Lathan retured the second-half kickoff 71 yards for a TD and the PAT tied it at 14.
“We struggled in the kicking game,” Brotherton said. “It was better than last week (in the jamboree) but we gave up a kickoff return touchdown that tied the game right off the bat in the second half.”
The defense made another big play early in the third quarter, recovering a fumble just after Haughton lost its only fumble of the game.
Despite rolling up 441 total yards, Brotherton said the offense struggled in certain areas.
“We got a lot of penalties,” he said. “Just kind of shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties.”
The Bucs had four holding penalties in the first half.
“Those are things we’ve got to get cleaned up if we’re going to have any success this year, but our defense played a lot better,” Brotherton said.
Davis finished with 113 yards on 16 carries in his first start. McWilliams caught four passes for passes for 66 yards.
Also making his first start, Stovall, a sophomore, completed eight of 13 passes for 84 yards with one TD and one interception. He also rushed for 36 yards on five carries.
“He did some good things. He did some bad things. And that’s kind of what you expect,” Brotherton said. “Like I said, we kept getting penalties. We’d get a big first down and we’d get a holding penalty and all of a sudden it’s third down and 20.
“He played well on the first drive. We had three or four drives we just couldn’t do anything and they got some pressure on him and he struggled a little bit. But that kid is calm. He handles the pressure well. He just kept going back out there and fighting and made some plays for us down the stretch. But it was a good team win. And he needed that and the team needed that. So a lot of good things but lots of things we need to clear up.”
Haughton hosts Booker T. Washington Friday. The Lions fell to Parkway 43-0 in their opener.