As Sivon Pleasants took the final snap and knelt to secure Caroline’s first football win since the opening game of the 2018 season, the senior quarterback remained in the kneeling position for several moments.
Pleasants said he was expressing gratitude for the Cavaliers’ defense, which made three critical stops on visiting Courtland in the closing moments Friday, forcing the Cougars to attempt a potential 21-yard game-winning field goal with 1:25 remaining. A wayward snap led to a run attempt that was stuffed as the Cavaliers earned a 27–26 homecoming victory to snap a 13-game losing streak.
It’s Caroline’s first win over Courtland since 1999 and the Cavaliers’ first Battlefield District win since a 32–13 victory over Spotsylvania in 2016.
“It’s just wild. I don’t have the words. To get our first win on homecoming feels amazing,” Caroline junior defensive lineman Kendall Jackson said. “The stands were packed. We made everybody proud. That’s all we could ever ask for.”
Pleasants felt indebted to the defense because he lost fumbles on three straight possessions with Caroline (1–4, 1–1 Battlefield) ahead 27–8 late in the third quarter.
Pleasants admitted he was feeling like a potential defeat was his fault, so when the Cavaliers held on “it felt like a weight was lifted off my chest.”
“Man, I just had to talk to God and thank Him,” Pleasants said. “We almost gave that game away. But our defense stepped up and got it done. It’s all thanks to Him.”
Pleasants dazzled for three quarters as he eluded Courtland defenders for his second touchdown of the night, a 60-yard sprint that gave the Cavaliers a 13–8 lead with 4:18 to go in the second quarter.
He then connected with 6-foot-5 receiver Tre Terrell for a 39-yard pass play down to the Courtland 1, setting up Sean Brannigan’s 3-yard touchdown run two plays later.
The Cavaliers led Courtland (1–5, 0–2) 19–8 at intermission.
“We wouldn’t have been in that position if [Pleasants] didn’t have a heck of a first three quarters,” Caroline head coach Doug Allison said. “Our offensive coordinator did a great job setting the boys up for success.”
The Cavaliers opened the third quarter with a 14-play, 61-yard drive that Brannigan punctuated with a 1-yard plunge for a 27–8 lead. The drive took 6:56 off the clock.
However, the Cougars didn’t go away quietly. They were resuscitated by a 32-yard touchdown pass from Raul Gil to Addie Burrow on fourth down with 1:02 left in the third.
After Pleasants’ first fumble, Josh Morgan, who finished with 142 yards on the ground, rumbled to the end zone from 28 yards away and Courtland trailed 27–20 with 11:17 left.
“We can’t turn the ball over in the fourth quarter to finish a game,” Allison said.
After Pleasants’ second fumble, the Cougars pulled within 27–26 on Gil’s 55-yard touchdown run, but Caroline blocked the extra point.
After Pleasants’ third fumble, the Cougars marched 48 yards to the Cavaliers’ 4-yard line before Caroline’s defense stiffened.
Courtland head coach J.C. Hall elected to kick the field goal even though he had his backup long snapper in the game because of an injury to starter Qua DeBerry.
Hall said he still believed the field goal attempt gave his team the best chance to win.
“We’ve just got to come together because we’re family,” Hall said. “I don’t know any great man that hasn’t faced some type of adversity and come through it. It’s the same thing with teams.”
Courtland will try to bounce back on the road next week against unbeaten Eastern View. Caroline travels to Chancellor.
Ca—Sivon Pleasants 3-yard run (Gabe Shire kick).
Ct—Raul Gil 6-yard run (Josh Morgan run).
Ca—Pleasants 60-yard run (kick failed).
Ca—Sean Brannigan 3-yard run (run failed).
Ca—Brannigan 1-yard run (Tre Terrell pass from Pleasants).
Ct—Addie Burrow 32-yard pass from Gil (run failed).
Ct—Morgan 28-yard run (run failed).
Ct—Gil 55-yard run (kick failed).
RUSHING: Courtland—Josh Morgan 23-142, TD; Raul Gil 4-62, TD; Thor Hanlon 5-37; Jason Lomax 6-18; Qua DeBerry 2-13; Maurice Howard 12-7. Caroline—Sivon Pleasants 17-85, 2 TDs; Sean Brannigan 9-48, 2 TDs; John Chapman 15-47.
PASSING: Courtland—Raul Gil 3-5-0, 40 yards, TD. Caroline—Pleasants 5-10-0, 97 yards.
RECEIVING: Courtland—Addie Burrow 3-40, TD. Caroline—Dominique Washington 3-47; Tre Terrell 1-39; Brannigan 1-11.