Anthony Brown made a commitment to football, realizing how much it could pay off if he wholly dedicated himself to it.
“I really decided that I really wanted to play and get better,” he said.
On Friday night, the Sanderson senior middle linebacker made a commitment to the football.
His Spartans hosted Fuquay-Varina in Week 2, seeking a rebound after falling by one point in the opening week.
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The visitors were up one possession with 5 minutes and 49 seconds left in the game. They were lined up at the Spartans’ 4-yard line, second and goal, before Sanderson forced a fumble. Brown made the most of the play when he recovered it, carrying it up a few yards before giving his rebuilding team the best chance he could.
“We had to make a good stand because we were at the goal line,” Brown said of the defense’s play. “A couple of guys had it mapped out. Someone came and knocked the ball loose and I saw it. I was hoping it helped the team, and I believe it did.
“That was a big boost.”
Boost it was, but game-changer it wasn’t as the Spartans fell 26-13.
Brown’s fumble recovery, Sanderson’s second of the night (both in the second half), put the Spartans on their own eight. They used an 11-yard pass to convert third down, but a big Bengals sack knocked the steam from the hosts.
Senior running back Josh Arrington’s 33-yard touchdown run with 2:01 showing was enough to keep the Spartans down and claim the victory.
Sanderson senior running back Jordan Logan contributed a pair of big gains (18 and 11 yards) before the Spartans turned it over on downs to end their last possession.
“I knocked us out,” Brown said. “We were a little said. We tried to pick our head up and keep our head in the game.”
Brown is one of 18 seniors on the roster this year. The Spartans saw 22 seniors exit last year’s three-win squad. It’s no secret that they are young and rebuilding.
While Brown picked up one of two Fuquay fumbles, he was only part of a defense that had its sparks throughout the night.
After the Bengals opened their scoring in the first quarter, Sanderson’s defense held them to four yards in as many plays in their next possession.
I guess a C- or B+ because of the mistakes we made. We could have had less mistakes. Not certain mistakes, but mental errors.
Sanderson MLB Anthony Brown, grading defense against Fuquay-Varina
The defense tried with its might to pressure a dual-threat quarterback in Brycen Braswell (led the game with 120 rushing yards) and a trusty Arrington, fighting its way to the backfield on numerous occasions.
“I thought defense played well,” Sanderson coach Ben Kolstad said following the loss. “We created a couple of turnovers. We stood tall a couple of times. We just have to grow up – both offense and defense.”
Both Brown and Kolstad agreed mental mistakes contributed to the Week 2 setback.
Brown’s play down the stretch is something Kolstad expects often.
“He’s a fighter, and he’s going to give us a chance every game,” Kolstad said. “He’s not played a whole lot in the past, and he worked his tail off this last offseason. We’re proud of everything he’s done.”
Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan