Briarfield rolls into Academy-A title game|[11/25/06]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 25, 2006

LAKE PROVIDENCE – Known as the catalyst of the Briarfield Academy offense, Jamie Fortenberry gave the Rebels an equally big lift on defense.

Fortenberry turned in what’s become a typical offensive highlight reel, having a hand in all five of the Rebels’ touchdowns, but it was his interception that finally stopped Benton’s chance of staying in Friday’s MPSA Class A North State Championship game at John Hopkins Field.

Briarfield (11-2) advances to its first Academy-A championship game on Thursday at Mississippi College in Clinton. The Rebels will play Trinity Episcopal of Natchez, which beat defending Class A champ River Oaks of Monroe, 37-7.

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&#8220This is something we’ve dreamt about since we’ve been 7 years old,” said Fortenberry, who rushed for 105 yards and three touchdowns, passed for two more scores and had a fumble recovery and his fourth quarter interception.

While Fortenberry was again outstanding, he had plenty of help. The Rebels’ offensive line, keyed by Luke Clement, Hunter Barrows and Zac Moody, provided much of the punch that allowed Briarfield to dominate the line of scrimmage in the second half.

&#8220We were just trying to control the ball,” said Clement, the Rebels’ starting center. &#8220Going to the state finals is something we’ve been planning for since we’ve been playing.”

The Rebels’ front wall opened enough holes for the team to rush for 163 of their 252 yards in the second half.

Up 21-14 at the half, Briarfield took the second-half kickoff and went on a methodical 13-play, 77-yard drive that ate up 6 minutes, 38 seconds. Fortenberry capped the drive with a 4-yard TD dive. Stephen Hernandez’s kick was wide, but the Rebels were up 27-14.

Benton (9-4), much like the other two times it was down by two scores, answered again. Stuart Morgan hit Blake Bowman on a 44-yard touchdown pass to pull the Raiders to within 27-21 with 3:14 left in the third.

Back came the Rebels, but this time, it was Fortenberry who came up big as a wide receiver. He caught Craig LeBeau’s out pass and turned it into a 28-yard gain to the Benton 6.

That led directly to Fortenberry’s third rushing score, a 1-yard plunge with 11:27 remaining. A try for two failed, but Briarfield was up 33-21.

The Rebels tried an onside kick, but it traveled only five yards. Benton took over at the Rebel 45 and one play later was at the Rebel 25.

On third down, Morgan tried to go deep to Thomas Shipp, but Fortenberry had it read and made the interception, a yard from the goal line.

&#8220Most of the game they were running slants, but they use that to set up the post-corner, so I just stayed back and waited for it,” Fortenberry said.

Stephen Landreneau picked up 10 yards on a sweep to get the Rebels out of their own end zone. Then Fortenberry broke loose for a 38-yard gain inside Benton territory. The Rebels were able to kill off four-plus minutes before Benton got the ball back.

Clement came back with a key sack to help stop Benton’s final possession, which ended on downs.