Through two and a half quarters of Brighton’s season opener Friday night in Memphis vs. St. Benedict, the game was up for grabs.
SBA receivers Jordan Ward and Dewayne Moseley had made some big plays in the first half and it was clear they were capable of making some more at any time.
But once the game moved into the fourth quarter, it was crystal clear that SBA had no answer for Brighton junior running back Ty Stark.
Stark rushed 33 times for 276 yards and four touchdowns and the defense allowed zero points (SBA’s lone second half TD came on a kickoff return after the game was out of reach) in the second half in a 56-26 Cardinal win.
“No sir,” Stark said when asked after the game if he was tired. “I put in all that work over the summer preparing for this season. Grinding hard all night, all day, every day, nonstop … We’re here to prove people wrong all season.”
“I want everybody to understand this: Ty Stark is a force to be reckoned with,” first-year Brighton head coach Morgan Cruce said. “He is a man among boys right now. When he locks in and plays the way he can play, he’s a really dynamic force for us. Behind our offensive line, with Cade (Crowson) being able to deal the ball, it allows him to eat up yards. We were so glad to have him be able to eat up that clock.”
Stark broke an 87-yard TD run late in the second quarter to put his team ahead 28-20 and helped put the game away in the fourth quarter. After four straight Stark runs got Brighton to the SBA 31, Pearce Meachum (seven carries, 72 yards) ran it from there to put Brighton ahead 42-20 with 9:07 left in the game.
Five minutes later, four more Stark runs netted another TD and a 49-20 lead.
Brighton’s offense and special teams hit the ground running. After SBA scored on the first drive of the game to go ahead 6-0, Keagan Jarmon returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards and Stark ran in the two-point conversion for an 8-6 Brighton lead.
Brighton’s Taylon Carpenter intercepted a pass on SBA’s next possession. On Brighton’s first offensive play, first-year starting quarterback Cade Crowson hit Jalen Terry on a 35-yard TD for a 14-6 lead.
Crowson completed 5 of 15 passes for 87 yards.
The Cardinals’ final touchdown came when Brenden Killinger hit Hunter Lampley for a 56-yard touchdown pass and the celebration was on.
“We focused on believing that our new coach, Coach Cruce, an amazing guy, would come in and do what he told us he was going to do and have faith,” Lampley said after the game. “It seemed to click in everybody’s mind, like a switch, a light bulb. It was amazing. I’m excited about the rest of the season, for sure.”
“I thought we grew up a lot as a team,” Cruce said. “We played a lot of different people tonight, trying to find out who would have that mo-mo, that juice. It was just a team win tonight. I am so proud of my guys.”