Heading into Friday night’s game against Northpoint Christian in Southaven, Miss., first-year Brighton head coach Morgan Cruce was particularly concerned about a couple of things.
Number one: Northpoint’s offense and quarterback Jack Patterson, last year’s Shelby-Metro area leader in touchdown passes who had thrown for 245 yards in week one against a good Jackson Christian team.
Number two: His team was coming off the emotional high of a week one win. How would they respond?
Both of those concerns proved to be very valid.
Patterson completed 18 of 23 passes for 351 yards and four touchdowns and, according to Cruce, the Cardinals appeared flat in a 41-7 loss.
“I told the guys, this week, in my year one, this is a culture game,” Cruce said. “You’re coming off the high of a big win in week one and you see how you respond the next week. Right now, we’re still learning how to be winners, how to be consistent each and every week. We didn’t show up this week. We didn’t show up as a team.”
Northpoint (1-1) scored touchdowns on its first five possessions of the game and led 35-7 at the half. Patterson hit Grayson Alford on a five-yard TD pass with 1:45 left in the first quarter to push the lead to 14-0.
Brighton (1-1) responded when Cade Crowson (5 of 18 passing, 118 yards) hit Jalen Terry (two catches, 94 yards) for a 49-yard touchdown pass to trim the lead to 14-7, but Northpoint answered with a 57-yard drive that ended with a four-yard TD run by Justin Henderson. Patterson finished off the first half with TD passes of 69 and 25 yards, both to Alford, to all but put the game out of reach.
The third quarter started with a 65-yard Northpoint scoring drive that ended with a 35-yard TD pass from Patterson to Alex Musgrave and the clock began running with Northpoint ahead by 34.
Ty Stark managed 81 yards on 19 carries and Brighton had 188 yards of offense, but it was not nearly enough.
Cruce had some strong words for his team during the postgame meeting, but he took responsibility for the loss.
“I told the guys this: At the end of the day, 41-7, that’s on me. It’s on me as a coach whether it’s getting them mentally prepared, spiritually prepared or emotionally prepared. It doesn’t matter. It’s on me … We as a staff have got to be better. We as a program have just got to see this as a moment that yeah, this was a test of our culture. How are we going to respond to it?”
Brighton will get its chance to get back on track Friday in the home and Region 8-5A opener vs. Overton.