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BMS defense makes its point in stunning win over Excel

By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
It may not have been the best performance of the season by the Brewton Middle School Tigers' defense in terms of points and yards allowed.
When it came to big plays, the Tigers' defense rose to the occasion and sparked Brewton to a dramatic 30-22 win over the visiting Excel Panthers Thursday.
The Tigers scored two touchdowns and 14 points in the last 35 seconds to pull the game out. One touchdown was set up by a turnover created by the defense and the other touchdown was scored by the defense.
Excel appeared well on its way to victory late in the fourth quarter. The Panthers not only had a 22-16 lead with three minutes left, but they had the ball at midfield and had just picked up a first down which figured to allow them to whittle away most of the remaining time.
Instead of shutting the door all the way, the Panthers opened it when they fumbled and Brewton's Chris Bell recovered at the Tigers' 40.
That was the break the Tigers needed, as one play later Cortez Banks, who had 15 carries for 132 yards, broke loose for a 37-yard run that took the ball to the Excel 23.
The Tigers still needed more heroics. They were faced with a fourth down and short situation at the Excel 14 when Banks picked up the first down with an 11-yard run that took the ball to the three. Banks then covered those three yards, as he plowed his way across the goal line with the tying points with 35 seconds left.
Terez Lane added his name to the list of heroes, as he ran in the two-point conversion and put Brewton up 24-22.
The Tigers' late magic did not end there. Derrick Riley made sure of the victory when he stripped an Excel running back of the ball on the ensuing possession and returned it 35 yards for another touchdown with 22 seconds left to make it 30-22.
Prior to the late fireworks, the game had been a seesaw affair.
Excel drove 65 yards on its opening series of the game and scored on a two-yard run to take a 6-0 lead with 1:14 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers (4-2) quickly overcame that deficit, as they went 65 yards in three plays and 34 seconds. Riley went the last 49 yards on a reverse sweep down the left sideline to tie the game. Banks then ran in the two-point conversion and put Brewton up 8-6.
Excel also had its share of big plays, as it answered with a 65-yard touchdown run at the halfway point of the second quarter to regain the lead. A two-point conversion extended the Panthers' advantage to 14-8.
Banks showed he was more than just a running threat on the ensuing series, when he threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Lane off the halfback option to tie the game. Devlin Crosby ran in the two-point conversion to put Brewton back on top 16-14 with 2:37 left in the half.
Excel threatened to erase that lead just before halftime, but Riley came away with the first of his two fumble strips that thwarted the Panthers at the Brewton 33.
While Excel came away empty on that possession, it cashed in its first possession of the second half when it went 63 yards on five plays and scored on a
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14-yard run to move back in front. The Panthers added the two-point conversion and extended their lead to 22-16 with 5:39 left in the third quarter.
Brewton will go after its fourth straight win this Thursday when it travels to Jay (Fla.) for a 6 p.m. game.