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Brookville punches out Heritage's lights in Region 3C semifinals
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Brookville punches out Heritage's lights in Region 3C semifinals

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Lynchburg City Stadium sat in darkness for about 15 minutes Friday night with only the glow of the scoreboard, a few emergency lights, sporadic smart-phone flashlights and a full moon to illuminate the scene. 

All the light towers at the football field and the adjacent baseball stadium had gone out. It was the start of the fourth quarter, and Brookville had already punched out Heritage's lights, powering past the Pioneers in shocking fashion. 

Tayshaun Butler ran for 231 yards, quarterback Drake McDaniel accounted for four scores, and Brookville blazed its way into the Region 3C Championship with a 50-21 victory over Heritage. 

It was a revenge victory for BHS, which fell by one score in a double-overtime thriller to Heritage in October. The teams traded touchdowns to start Friday's game, but the Bees (8-3) put up 23 unanswered points to lead 30-7 by halftime. 

Big, game-defining plays were in abundance for the Bees. With the score tied at 7, Butler broke away on a 78-yard touchdown run. Up 16-7 after Brookville was rewarded a safety, Stephen Preston made an over-the-shoulder grab on a pass from McDaniel. In the second half, Jaylyn Marshall returned a kickoff 92 yards to the 2-yard line to set up another score. And Butler came flying out of nowhere in the third quarter to make a diving interception in the end zone. 

It was just that kind of night for the Bees. 

"Playoffs is different energy," Butler said after adding a 38-yard TD run, catching a pass and making appearances on defense and special teams. "Not that I haven't been playing hard, but I feel like it's just an extra gear. All the guys, it's just different. We're hungry."

Marshall was injured on his return and sported a cast and a sling after the game. He was all smiles, though. His return came after Heritage's Rajan Booker had opened the third quarter with a quick score, making it 30-14. The game was still within reach, and the Pioneers have been known for many years now for their second-half comebacks. 

But Marshall's return was a dagger, setting up a 1-yard plunge by Michael Viar that made it 37-14. He said he planned to get an X-ray to see whether he had any broken bones. 

"I just felt like we needed to fire back," Marshall said. "I had a bunch of good blocking from my teammates, and it just opened up a big hole."

In his final high school game, Heritage quarterback Kam Burns threw for 141 yards and completed 10 of 20 passes. BHS also picked off two of his throws. The Pioneers (9-3) finished with 289 yards of total offense to Brookville's 469. 

Heritage coach Brad Bradley asked his seniors to stand up in a postgame huddle. He applauded their efforts. "This one day is not going to define everything you've done here," he told them. 

The coach protested a call by officials midway through the second quarter. Heritage had just forced a turnover on downs and trailed 14-7. Burns scrambled to try to find a receiver on first down but was forced into the end zone. He launched a pass that went to the Brookville sideline and was called for intentional grounding. That gave BHS a safety, and a chorus of boos rang out from the home side of the stadium. 

But there was a bigger issue at play. Heritage consistently let BHS extend drives, couldn't come up with important tackles and looked stagnant on offense, with only 148 yards on the ground. Booker led the team with 100 rushing yards on 12 carries. 

"We just got out-coached, out-played," Bradley said. "At the end of the day, it all starts with me. I'm proud of our seniors, but you've got to give all credit to Brookville, coach [Jon] Meeks and their football team. They just came out here and smacked us in the mouth tonight."

McDaniel passed for 97 yards and completed 5 of 9 throws. He also rushed for 107 yards, highlighted by a 59-yard breakaway in the first half. The junior ran in two TDs and passed for two more, hitting Preston and Alfonzo Jennings each with a 26-yard pass. 

"Once I knew we had our momentum going, I knew there was no stop," Preston said. "I knew it was all gas, no brakes."

The victory sets up a region championship against LCA on Friday at Williams Stadium. Once again, the Bees will be operating on revenge. But they took a moment to savor this one under the lights that finally returned so the fourth quarter could be completed. And talk about big plays, Butler brought the energy as soon as play restarted. He took a handoff on the first play and went 38 yards for the score. 

"The whole goal was to limit [Heritage's big plays] and make sure it's two or three and not 10," Meeks said. "And honestly, I thought we had a lot of explosive plays. We had a ton. You've got to credit the O-line and credit the guys running the ball. They did a great job."

 

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