Thursday Night Lights: Owen vs. Brevard

owen brevard.jpg
owen brevard.jpg

Two programs headed in opposite directions square off on MY 40 in a 7 p.m. kickoff in this week’s edition of “Thursday Night Lights.”

Brevard (3-1), which has won 13 of its last 17 games the past two seasons under coach Craig Pritchett, will host Owen (0-3), which has struggled to a 2-21 record in its third year under the direct ion of Nathan Padgett.

The Blue Devils have bounced back from a season opening loss to Mountain Heritage to reel off three consecutive wins against Rosman, Draughn and Madison, showing a lot of air power under junior quarterback Mitchell Johnson.

After taking over for the very successful Tanner Ellenberger, the quarterback who helped direct Brevard to a 10-3 mark and a share of a conference title last year, Johnson has completed 45-of-81 passes for 726 yards, with eight touchdowns and one interception.

Luke Ellenberger (17 receptions, 233 yards, 2 scores) has been his favorite target, while deep threat Braylen Owens has four catches for 159 yards and three TDs.

“Mitchell had some big shoes to fill, but we’re really proud of how he has stepped in and played so well,” said Pritchett.

Defensively, Kyle Williams and Ethan Shook have combined for 109 tackles in just four games.

Owen’s current 12-game losing streak over two seasons in the longest in more than 60 years, according to records that date back to 1955.

The Warhorses have struggled to move the ball consistently in losses to Enka, Reynolds and Hendersonville, and the result is an overworked defense that has allowed 52 points in each of its last two outings.

Power runner Antonio McDowell has shown promise, bulldozing his way to 166 yards in 27 carries, averaging 6.1 yards per carry. Quarterback Audan Meyers (18-of-34, 159 yards) has thrown for three scores.

Kaleb Woods (25 tackles) and Otis Mallory (24) pace the Owen defense.

Brevard was once a dominant football program in WNC, with 10 conference championships in 21 seasons (1981-2001), but recently went through a stretch of eight straight years (2008-015) without a winning record, including a pair of 0-11 seasons.

But Pritchett has helped turn that around.

“The players got into the weight room and got stronger, and that really helped their confidence,” said Pritchett. “Then they figured out how good they could be, and we have a great coaching staff that does a phenomenal job of getting them ready.

“When you put those things together, you can have some success on the football field.”

The Warhorses were also a consistently strong program under coach Kenny Ford, who won 230 games from 1986-2014, with 14 conference titles and four undefeated regular seasons.

But Padgett’s first two teams won just once each year and this year’s squad still has a matchup against Franklin – ranked No. 1 in the WLOS WNC Top 10 Football Poll – and a rugged Western Highlands Conference slate that includes games against No. 2 Mountain Heritage and No. 5 Mitchell.

Brevard is ranked 10th in this week’s WLOS Poll.

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In a game that wasn't decided until the final play, Brevard High scored a touchdown with 61 seconds remaining to escape with a 27-22 victory over Owen in the "Thursday Night Lights" thriller at Brevard on MY 40.

The last of four lead changes in the final 13 minutes came when Blue Devils' tailback Stevi Benjamin scored from 9 yards out with 1:01 remaining.

Owen's final drive ended at the Brevard 39 on an incomplete "Hail Mary" pass as the final horn sounded.

Benjamin had six carries for 97 yards, all in the second half, including a 58-yard touchdown run with 7:35 left to play.

Owen took a 22-21 lead with 4:15 remaining on Caleb Wells' 24-yard field goal before Brevard's game-winning, nine-play, 60-yard drive that Benjamin capped with his second TD.

Check out the game highlights below: