Photo/James Pugh

Nine drives by Brookhaven’s offense began or entered Laurel territory. Not a simple one resulted in points Between the Bricks at R. H. Watkins Stadium. Call it a big night by Laurel’s defense or the inefficiency by Brookhaven’s offense, and the final score Friday night would still be Laurel’s to boast.

Laurel improved to 2-0 in Region 3-5A with a 20-0 win over the Panthers. They also improve to 3-3 on the year. Brookhaven, however, falls to 4-2 on the season and 1-1 in 3-5A. 

“It was huge,” said Laurel head coach Todd Breland of his teams’ success on defense. “Whether it was causing turnovers or focusing turnovers on down, it was huge.”

Click on the link to see video highlights and all of our postgame interview with Todd Breland:

Brookhaven’s second drive nearly reached the goal line. On two big plays, a 25-yard run by running back JG Edwards and a 29-yard pass from quarterback Sevante Quinn to receiver John Hilbert, the Panthers reached Laurel’s four-yard line. A forced fumble and recovery by Laurel’s defensive front kept Brookhaven off the board. 

And that’s how the night continued to roll. Laurel stopped Brookhaven eight more times in Tornadoes’ territory. They did so by forcing four punts, two turnovers on downs, another forced fumble and one interception at Brookhaven’s goal line by junior safety D’Anthony Walker. 

Sophomore quarterback Xavier Evans led Laurel on offense, scoring two rushing touchdowns of one and nine yards. Both came in the second quarter. His first score was set up by an 85-yard scramble of his up the middle plays before. 

Evans also tossed a touchdown pass in the contest. It came on Laurel’s first offensive drive of the second half. His 71-yard pass to Melyjah Windham with 11:28 left in the third quarter gave Laurel its 20-0 lead that held till the final whistle.

Breland said it was Evans’ first game back fully healthy. 

Laurel has a short week before it returns to Region 3-5A play. The Tornadoes (3-3) travel to Wingfield next Thursday night. 

Friday night’s 20-0 win over Brookhaven puts Laurel in the driver seat for a showdown with West Jones on Oct. 12. Winner of that game could likely win the Region 3-5A title and earn itself a No. 1 seed in the upcoming playoffs.